If you attended a performance of the Catalan theater company La Fura dels Baus back in the 1980s, you had to first sign a form assuming full liability yourself if you were to get dirty or injured.
The audience would sometimes leave performances by the all-male troupe completely drenched or covered with flour, or running from one of the actors as he charged through the crowd with a chain saw. One thing was for sure: the evening had been unforgettable.
Since then, La Fura dels Baus and the mastermind behind them, director Carlus Padrissa, have given up trying to shock people. In an interview, Padrissa explains that life has its different stages, and that he would now rather shock people through silence and contemplation.
La Fura dels Baus have successfully made the formidable transition from street entertainment to the temples of high art, as well as from physical to digital theater.
But they still remain controversial to this day: in continual search of direct contact with their audience, the ensemble stages multimedia productions, often visually overwhelming, that are highly relevant to today’s world. Some purists might contend that the music recedes too much into the background; Padrissa emphasizes, however, that for him, music is always first and foremost, the connecting link between all the other artistic elements.
1959 Carlus Padrissa is born in the small town of Balsareny in the province of Barcelona
1979 La Fura dels Baus is founded by Carlus Padrissa and his childhood friends
1992 breakthrough with the staging of the Olympic opening ceremony in Barcelona
1999 first large-scale opera production (Berlioz, The Damnation of Faust) at the Salzburg Festival
Further important productions, including Mozart’s Magic Flute, Ruhrtriennale 2003, Wagner’s Ring in Valencia starting in 2007, and Stockhausen’s Licht cycle in Cologne in 2011
Along with opera productions, enormous open-air spectacles, including performances in Munich in 2013, the Verdi and Wagner anniversary year
Today the ensemble works internationally and consists of six directors, with Jürgen Müller, Àlex Ollé, Miki Espuma, Pep Gatell, and Pera Tantiña joining Carlus Padrissa.
Did you know?
The name of the group means “The ferret from Els Baus.” Els Baus is a dried-up riverbed found in their hometown, while “baus” is also a word for “abyss” in the local dialect. The association of “fura” with “furore” is also completely intentional.
La Fura dels Baus characterizes itself as “eccentricity, innovation, adaptation, rhythm, evolution, and surpassing boundaries.”
Padrissa enjoys describing his career by way of a football analogy: “Between the ages of twenty and thirty, you can play as a striker, between thirty and thirty-five as a defender, at forty, probably still as a goalkeeper, and after forty, it’s better that you become a coach.”
The members of La Fura dels Baus see each other as family, comparing themselves to orphaned circus children for whom loyalty is important above all.
Stage designer Roland Olbeter on Padrissa: “Carlus is positive, but he’s like a pit bull. When he really goes after something, he doesn’t let go.”