Peter Vermeersch and FLAT EARTH SOCIETY 100-year anniversary of Die Austernprinzessin (The Oyster Princess) (1919, Ernst Lubitsch)

Peter Vermeersch and FLAT EARTH SOCIETY: 100-year anniversary of The Oyster Princess 

“Twisting rapidly from theatrical bombast to tenderness, collective improv, mad movie-chase music and back to swinging anthems.” The Guardian 

In 2019, Flat Earth Society celebrates its 20-year jubilee and the 100th anniversary of Ernst Lubitsch’s landmark 1919 film The Oyster Princess (Die Austernprinzessin). After almost 14 years and many international screenings, including in New York, Ottawa, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City, FES will perform its most successful production in a special U.S. engagement at REDCAT. For this reprise, they work with the version of the film restored by the F.W. Murnau Foundation; the image quality of this version is truly exceptional. 

The Oyster Princess tells the story of oyster tycoon Quaker, a man so rich he even has a butler to hold his cigar while he smokes. The one thing left that could possibly impress king Quaker, would be to have his daughter Ossi marry a bona fide prince. He finds a poor prince, prince Nucki, who in turn sends his friend Joseph to get an idea of what Ossi is like. The Oyster Princess marks a turning point in director Ernst Lubitsch’ comedy work. He leaves the slapstick behind and evolves towards a sophisticated form of satire. The target of his humor in this case is the American bourgeoisie, personified by the wealthy businessman the Oyster King. Laced with sour humor, we hear the story of the boundless wealth of the American bourgeoisie in the twenties and the snobbish attitude of the impoverished European aristocracy. Lubitsch is known mainly for his Hollywood-period in the 1940’s and 1950’s with The Shop Around the Corner, Ninotchka, Heaven Can Wait and many others. A few films from his Berlin period (ca. 1915) were recently restored, amongst others Carmen and The Oyster Princess from 1919.

With a special introduction by Nicola Lubitsch 



Flat Earth Society was founded in 1998, when no-nonsense artist, former architect, clarinettist, saxophonist, keyboard player, composer and producer Peter Vermeersch, wanted to explore new horizons after having convinced music lovers all over the word with Maximalist! and the cult legend band X-legged Sally. Vermeersch, who worked with international artists like Josse De Pauw, Wim Vandekeybus, Vincent Bal, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Fred Frith, The Simpletones and Jazzwork from Berlin and wrote music for the Arditti Quartet, Prima La Musica and the Smith Quartet, assembled a pack of inspired and inimitable muscians, forming a big band which has nowadays become much more than just a big band. Peter Vermeersch included, the band now consists of a permanent group of 14 musicians: Benjamin Boutreur (alto sax), Peter Delannoye (trombone), Berlinde Deman (tuba), Pauline Leblond (trumpet), Frederik Leroux-Roels (guitar), Bart Maris (trumpet), Michel Mast (tenor sax), Marc Meeuwissen (trombone), Martí Melià (Clarinet, bass clarinet), Kristof Roseeuw (double bass), Wim Segers (vibraphone), Bruno Vansina (baritone sax & flute), Peter Vandenberghe (piano & keyboards) and Teun Verbruggen (drums & dustbingrooves). Occasionally this group is completed by guest singer Esther Lybeert. In the past they worked with various guest musicians: Uri Caine, Toots Thielemans, Mike Patton (Fantômas), Jimi Tenor, John Watts and more recently Ernst Reijseger.

The music of FES, varying from strictly written sheet music to liberating improvisation, is 95% homemade. Streaks of music of other composers are used as inspiration, frequently arranged, adapted and integrated into FES compositions, adding a wide range of atmospheres and styles to the eclectic FES universe. FES, who dares to flirt with other disciplines as theatre and film and owns the ability to seduce a number of different audiences, from more select jazz listeners to a wild young rock public, is at its best live on stage.

Associated Images: 

WED 11/6
8:30 pm

G - General Audience

M - REDCAT Members

ST - Students

CA - CalArts Students/Faculty/Staff