On this day in Dutch history
On the 10th of September 2010, the Klingon Opera ‘u’ had its official Earth premiere in the Hague. The story tells the tale of Kahless the Unforgettable, an important figure in Klingon history. The English translation for ‘u’ is universe or universal.
In the opera, Kahless’ brother Morath is tempted into betraying their father by the tyrant Molor. With the help Molor’s army, Morath kills his father and Kahless vows to restore their father’s honour. He ends up fighting his brother at the volcano Kri’stak, and Morath throws himself into it. At the end of the first act, Kahless forges the very first bat’leth in the volcano.
In act two, Kahless travels to the underworld where he finds his brother, whom he forgives, and his father. He teaches them the Klingon martial art of mok’bara, which allows Morath and his father to regain their body. The guardian of the underworld, Kortar, is very enraged by this. Kahless continues his rebellion against the tyrant Molor, and also meets his true love, Lady Lukara. Together they fight Molor’s army and finish act two by making passionate love in the blood of their enemies.
Act three contains the final battle between Kahless and Molor. Even Kortar is impressed by Kahless’ honour, and creates a heaven for the dead Klingons. In the battle, Kahless’ brother and father are killed, and Kahless’ death scream sends them to heaven. He goes on to kill Molor and washes his heart in order to restore his honour. Kahless then commits ritual suicide with Lukara’s help, and her death scream sends him to heaven.
One of the main forces behind the project was Floris Schönfeld, who was artistic and stage director as well as the head researcher. He studied all mentions and references to Klingon opera across the Star Trek franchise in order to make it as authentic as possible. There were even Klingon musical instruments created by the Klingon Terran Research Ensemble.
The opera was composed by Eef van Breen, with the libretto by Kees Ligtelijn and Marc Okrand, the latter the linguist who designed Klingon for the Star Trek franchise. In the original cast, Henri van Zanten played the Master of the Scream, a narrator role. Taru Huotari played Kahless. Ben Kropp was Kahless’ father, Kotar and Molor. Morath and Lukara were played by Jeanette Huizinga.
Audience reaction at the premiere was enthusiastic, and there were repeat performances at other festivals.
For more information, visit U the Opera website.
(Above: A scene from the opera.)