Csaba Kutszegi: Missing Presence - Purcell Picnolepsy -
In: Színház, journal for drama critique and theory, May 2004
'(...) Purcell Picnolepsy is a highly sensitive artistic reflection of new age tendencies. I believe it may be a true masterpiece of our age. (...) The genre of Purcell Picnolepsy was defined by its author as a contemporary opera. Contemporary operas are verbal. Yet author Ágens has crossed the Rubicon: in the opera she wrote there is not a single well-articulated word, and no automated translation device would ever be able to identify a single intelligible word - in any language. ... The stage presence and the special singing technique of Ágens and Viktória Kiss results in an inspiring, overwhelming performance. The spectator is bedazzled: he both follows and participates in a dramatic plot, that doesn't have a tangible existence, in the sense that it is totally lacking action of any description. The same is true for the 'text': the singing technique based on a total lack of articulate words seems nevertheless comprehensible, or, put it another way, its incomprehensibility is not remarkable, not disturbing. (...) It is not by chance that Ágens 'placed' into Purcell's music the 'arias' she wrote. The sound of Baroque music and its ideological whirling towards heaven creates a background that is adequate in every respect for the vocal sounds 'rising to the spheres' as composed by Ágens.'
Attila Deák: Ágens, the Miracle!
'On Ship A 38, Ágens presented Meus, a piece in three movements, barely more than sixty minutes, accompanied by viola da gamba (Xénia Stollár), viola (Ádám Jávorka) and percussion (Lajos Panyik). In these sixty minutes, we find out what Ágens thinks about life, death, the world, and about us. First it seems as if she only played and constantly improvised with her voice. Later on, as she gets more involved in the dramatic voice play (sometimes she even glances into the notes), we find out that we are the participants of a performance composed with strict humbleness. At a point, the piece recalls memories of when I first saw-heard Iván Darvas in the Diary of a Madman, or Mari Törőcsik in Beckett's Happy Days. Because actually, Ágens is a specially talented dramatic actress, who works not only with her voice, but also with a fantastic system of signs. With her refined mimics, gestures, she "makes" a theatre. She sings, sobs, howls rattling, before us, the sorrow of the happy female devouring life, grasping everything into herself, and then that of the "eternal woman" , more and more lonesome, exhausted, fighting death.
Ágens is certainly not an easy bite for the critics. Still, fortunately, more and more theatre people recognise her elementary talent, and make use of this in theatre performances. (Imre Madách's The Tragedy of Man - in Nemzeti Színház, Arthur Miller's The Crucible - in Vígszínház). What Ágens knows about theatre, and how she communicates from the stage to her audience, may be compared best with Sándor Zsótér's theatre, way of expression. Every step she takes, every gesture she makes, is precisely, orderly elaborated - and her voice is a goldmine: wide-ranging, arousing, lewdly erotic. Marvellous! Let's care for Ágens!'
Tamás Jászay: Towards Completeness
13th International Meeting of Alternative Theatres
Criticai lapok 2003/10-11.
'... The contemporary dance opera, Tenebrae, created by Ágens and Krisztián Gergye, was shown Sunday evening in the Old Synagogue. Ágens had already made her début to Thealter's audience earlier, and fascinated her audience this time as well, with her 'arias' inspired by the Baroque opera, and aiming at the transcendental.'
Ágnes Veronika Tóth: Poison, but Not Deadly
Élet és Irodalom, 31/10/2003
'Ágens, our bravest, unclassifiable singer...'
The Bródy-Prize and its Award
'And after literature has left the stage, (...) Ágens the singer's voice, recalling the howling wind, the rolling ocean, the moaning of wounded sirens, filled the room.'
Zoltán Végső: Iva Bittova and Ágens in TRAFÓ
' . Do you remember the mutant blue operasinger from the movie titled Fifth Element.? Although we don't live in space, Ágens is at least ten years ahead of her time with her solo chamber opera. An entirely new language and self-mythology creates a dark utopia, a vision of the future clearly and precisely drawn. Tenebrae is a series of gestures Krisztián Gergye's strange choreography is a mixture of Javanese dances and provocative dance-elements, while the singer's continuously distorted voice elevates the audience to another sphere. The ethereal vibration, the metaphysical mood and the special intonation have a very special effect on the mind: you will be immersed in the mist of pessimism even weeks after the performance. This is a reaction to our age, a prophecy of destruction. Ágens crawls to the center of the stage like a worm and we can be nothing but scared of the future.
You just can't get away from the effects created by Ágens and Iva Bittova. Their performances focus on music but other forms of art play a significant role, as well. Because of their common quest for perfection they can only work with excellent companions. Their ability for reflection and deep thoughts put them among the best representatives of our age, the only difference being that of them is coming from the past while the other is heading for the future.'
Gábor Papp Ellenfény (contemporary theatre and dance-art), 2002/7.
'Ágens' is an expert in several singing techniques (opera, chanson, song, jazz, sprachgesang)...'
Kriszta Szepesi: Concealed Thoughts
'With her unearthly and sometimes undefinable voice, Ágens interpreted, among others, Latin psalms, prayers...'
Boglárka Farkas: The Non-existent Man
Zsöllye, September 2000
'Ágens's fantastic voice, which played easily with octaves...'
Márta Péter: Expiatory Embraces
'Ágens, the singer with a fantastic technique, serving the Kompmánia group with a powerful vocal dramaturgy...'
Márta Nagy: ÁGENS
"Balkon" Journal of Contemporary Art, 1996. 10-11.
'The operatic voice of "Ágens" as well as her gutturals and falsettos are extreme manifestations of a search for the ultimate limits of the female voice, aiming at the most perfect and complete discovery of the realm of the natural tones. In the same time they also are attempts to widen this region and settling down in its most remote, recently disclosed nooks . While being an instrument explored and utilized according to her special abilities, skills, and needs, for Ágens her voice also is a determinative, elementary part of the body. Similar musical phenomena, strange ladies excelling the conventional "cultural assortment" also are known. Diamande Galás of New York can howl, bellow, roar, and scream in a more or less resembling way. Meredith Monk also applies unusual voices as raw materials for constructing her surprising creatures.(...)
During her appearances her voice, the surroundings, the audience, and she herself, turns into an inseparable unity. As a strange rite or magic it annihilates any distinction and difference, leaving nothing more "alive" than the depths common in, and well known by each of us, the music existing only for itself: the most ancient, and most natural element of the World.'
Sarolta Szálka: Lesson for the Soul in Anatomy
Relax Magazin, 2000
'Oratorio-like organ sequences sending into a trance, jazz-like time measuring, Strangers in the Night, then again trance, to which Ágens sings the cream. Her sounds, created sharply, then softly, dig into our brain. She presents the hit tune parodistically, it pains her to sing it on purpose harshly, her hearing and voice are much more used to distinct, clear sounds. Her aching sequences are accompanied by Ádám Jávorka on viola.'
A diva's personal mythology
(Ágens: Of Heaven and Earth) Magyar Narancs, 1999. May
'This is the kind of music that easily makes the reviewer shoot off the target as it is so unique and devoid of clichés that it is 1difficult to set it in a conceptual frame.
János Háy: Ágens
Dél-Magyarország, 1998. 27th of June
'Though it is contemporary music, or modern, or alternative, or underground - the terms are a bit blurred, - her music has much more to do with the primitive ritual songs of the shamans, prayers and funeral songs of the pagan world, than with Cage, Stockhausen, Varese or Reich.. The titles of the songs also refer to the archaic content: Sin, Curse, Soul, Search etc.
The sounds burst forth from the throat, the larynx, the stomach - from the whole body, the whole being. It is as if 'Ágens' aim were not only to toss songs into the air, but to use her voice to seize us, the audience, and transport us onto a higher (or at least a different) dimension. These are magical songs, invoking beings from the world beyond: malign and benevolent spirits, dead souls and living gods. These spirit beings and the impulses they represent have been the same since time immemorial - and thus the songs have an aura of man's primal beginnings; there is something otherworldly about them; they are redolent of a world peopled with Jung's archetypes. .This music breaks open the tomb of the spirit - but not in order to desecrate what lies within. Our consciousness forms a conceptual and rational shield from behind which to glimpse traces of original beauty, harmony and world order. The magic and mystery of Ágens' music is not a conjuring of evil forces. Instead it is a sort of hark-back to a lost golden age, an age which may never have existed, but which we still somehow remember.'
Zoltán Végső: The voice and and its personality
Élet és Irodalom, 1999. 23th April.
'The first song - Manifestation - is a kind of self-reflection. She sings a duet with herself, which reminds us of the imitations of Meredith Monk... (...) Ágens is a real stage character, she has a special, almost etherial radiation. Though alone on the stage she attracts attention, she lives, breathes together with the music, follows it with her movements and facial expression. It is a catharsis both for the artist and the audience.'
Boglárka Farkas: Ágens-Attila Csabai: Átjárók/Passages
Ellenfény (contemporary theatre and dance-art), 2000/ 3-4.
'... Ágens-dressed up in a dark green,floor-length crinoline gown and a feather tuft-is an earthly and unearthly woman at the same time.Her voice embraces everything ,swoops and soars changing in every moment.She's one of the few real instinctive artists bearing a refined technique to master all the tones of her voice in an absolutely superb, sensitive way.Not only her organs of speech do the singing but the whole person -everything sounds that's body and soul.
Whoopings,sighs,groanings, and screams are all mixed into her singing evoking a perplexed dreamworld as you may experience it right on your arrival to Szkéné Theater.The painful voice-clusters call birth and death to one's mind. And the magic happens: three dancers covered in white textile are born to life .Bodies begin to pulsate , membranes are ruptured and following the soul the body is being born.A beautiful encounter :Ágens' musical world-sometimes accompanied by instruments and special effects-and the Company KompMánia were made for each other.It's a shocking and mysteriously fearsome world with desires,fears,distress, anger and frustration ,want and quest inside ..'
XX: Ágens: Of Heaven and Earth
Magazin Fókusz, June 1999.
'An album first released as a supplement of Balkon, a monthly for contemporary arts has recently come out as a self-contained record that will probably draw the attention of music freaks with a taste for the extraordinary.'
Ágens: Of Heaven and Earth ( Periferic Records 1999)
'Ágens.. A name that has become a trademark, a genuine label on the contemporary music market flooded with products with a short shelf-life.Even before the release of her first album she had serious successes.'
Doda: Exposed Nakedness
Origo, June 2000
'The only female actor and character in the play is Ágens, also acting as singer. Her song wells up from the spiritual depths of clear and profound love. This song is free of common words: it is rather a clustered crystal-chain of pure voices embracing and sheltering the dancers.'
Tamás Halász: "Szakreál"
"Színház", Budapest, Vol. XXXIII No. 7, July 2000, pp. 39-41. (in Hungarian)
'In the meantime Ágens, the talented singer appears on the stage, performing a pregnant women. At the time of the premiere she really was pregnant, she really represented a radiating, blossoming womanly character, the symbol of maternity and motherhood. On the top of the scenery, sitting in a wicker-chair, Ádám Jávorka, the virtuoso viola-player is sitting. Both of them also are the actors of the performance and play significant role in realizing it.
Csabai's choreography is built up of excellent musical materials selected with a firm hand and a whole string of "video clips" properly invented for the components of the music. In the "musical architecture" of the play pre-recorded movements are "mixed" with the brilliant live singing by Ágens who also gleams her qualities as an actor. By the peculiarly playful character of this music her own "personal musical world" gains new shades and colors: traces of a subtle sense of humor and self-irony can be disclosed in it. The characteristic features of the "traditional" "KOMPmÁNIA Style" as "dramatic and sublime attitude", and surrealism are enriched by the ironic elements filtering into it mainly from Ágens's sessions (e.g. her adaptation of the song "Strangers in the Night") in this vivisection-like performance. In this play the singer also becomes a witness of mysterious power. She simultaneously is a lady and a servant. Her enigmatic character is indispensable in the play as well as Annie Lennox's presence is essential in Derek Jarman's "Edward II": an absolutely necessary, emblematic component among the ingredients of a sensual story of men.