Monday, July 7, 2008
In honor of Klaus
A few posts ago, I wrote about gender variant queer magick, and yesterday, I watched an amazing documentary about someone who did some incredible work that I see as being in this vein.
Klaus Nomi was an incredible singer and performer whose vocal range went way up into the traditional mezzo-soprano range. If he had come along just a tad later in the development of the counter-tenor movement of opera, he probably could have had an international opera career.
However, he ended up becoming a much sought-after performance artist, and I was stunned by his voice and performance power.
Sadly, he died early on in the AIDS crisis (so early in fact, that he was lying in a hospital bed and talking to a friend on the phone while watching news reports of the a "gay cancer."
Here is a You Tube clip of Nomi performing "The Cold Song" by 17th century English composer Henry Purcell. He performed this in Munich, shortly before the end of his life, and although it's different from his typical punk/pop fare, the operatic repertoire was a lifelong favorite of his.
I was deeply moved by this performance and piece. The music is divine, and Klaus' ability to negotiate this composition is nothing short of amazing. Despite the technical beauties of the piece, though, I am deeply moved by his performance, especially in the midst of the descending personal and collective health crisis that is happening at this time in his life and the life of queer people of the time. As he holds the last note on the word "death," I'm struck by the expression on his face. For me, I see betrayal and deep anger, even something accusatory.
Wherever you are, Klaus, I hope you are singing many, many concerts to all who will listen.