The Letter The Performance  

TEXTS (PDF Downloads):
Scene 1 (Intro), Scene 2, Scene 3 (Proverbs of Hell), Scene 4 (Chorus)

The Story of the "Marriage of Heaven and Hell” by Knut Remond

In 1793, Henry Fuseli wrote and told William Blake about the mineral mine of Lengenbach in the Swiss Valaisan Binn Valley with great empathy and beseeching passion. Fuseli persuaded Blake to visit the mineral mine of Lengenbach in order to take own notes there and become witness of such indescribable, mysterious and strange phenomena as those to be encountered in this mine. It was certainly necessary for him to apply an intense power of conviction, at the same time as he had to invest many hours of conversation with Blake, as his friend had never in his life so far left the city of London. From 1790 until 1793 William Blake was occupied with his work on "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”.
Henry Fuseli and his wife Sophia Rawlins had travelled from London to the Swiss Binn Valley (Goms) in 1793 with the aim of visiting the mine of Lengenbach (this is verified through a letter to W. Blake that was found in a private collection in Paris in 2004: "The Letter" can be found at the beginning of this website). Henry Fuseli's drawings and oil paintings from Lengenbach, which are in private possession in Paris, where they were discovered last year, are of great importance. So the married couple Fuseli-Rawling travelled to the Binntal. In his free time, Fuseli was an enthusiastic hobby entomologist (insect researcher), and, being Swiss, he did not want to withhold the Valais with its majestic mountains from his wife, Sophia Rawlins, who was English. According to sources of art history one can today securely assume that the couple intended to closely inspect the beauty and extreme variety of the location. In addition, there exists the option of reaching Italy on foot via two wonderful footpaths. One of these paths to Italy leads immediately past the mineral mine of Lengenbach; its name is "Geisspfad” (goat's path) or smuggler's path. The other access to Italy leads along the "Albrunpass” (Roman road).

Along this path, Fuseli and Rawlins had reached the Binn valley coming from Genoa. There exist no documents, which state whether they continued their journey to Italy after their stay in the Binn valley. This seems probable due to the fact that Michelangelo, Raphael etc., Italian art, were highly important in Henry Fuseli's view. He lived in Rome from 1770-1778.

Not long ago, a letter by Henry Fuseli was found in Paris, as mentioned above. In this letter, he describes the butterfly "Apollo", which he had observed in the mineral mine of Lengenbach, with deep affection and powerful poetry. He also reports about extremely mysterious encounters in the mineral mine!

For Sophia Rawlins and Henry Fuseli, this period in the Binntal valley was the most interesting and, at the same time, the most moving and unforgettable time of their lives.

What was of great interest, though, for W. Blake, and lead to a large amount of sleepless nights, was the part of the letter, in which Fuseli reports him and his wife Sophia witnessing, how, close to the mineral mine of Lengenbach, mysterious and bizarre noises were to be heard from sounding creatures and dancing beings.

William Blake embarks on an adventurous journey from London to the Binntal valley. As he arrives at the mineral mine he is – as are the spectators themselves – surprised by extraordinary acoustic and visual impressions. Embedded in and surrounded by sound spirits, voices and stilt dancers, he is unexpectedly integrated into the staging of his texts in the patois of the Valais and in English.

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