Friday, October 8, 2010

Passion by Dusapin

Passion, Théâtre des Champs Elysées - Paris, Octobre 6 2010

Pascal Dusapin and Sacha Waltz

Franck Ollu ..... conductor
Sasha Waltz .... director & choreographer

Barbara Hannigan Lei
Georg Nigl Lui

Sasha Waltz & Guests
Vocalconsort Berlin
Ensemble Modern

The libretto and music for this opera/ballet was written/composed by Pascal Dusapin --a well-known contemporary French composer-- in 2008, when this piece was premiered at the Festival in Aix-en-Provence. In this new production, the same singers and the conductor Franck Ollu, who performed at the World Premiere at Aix now join their forces with Ensemble Modern, with a very en vogue choreographer,  Sacha Waltz and the dancers of her company Sacha Waltz & Guests.

The music is composed for two voices ("Him" and "Her"), and Pascal Dusapin had in mind specifically Barbara Hannigan (whom we admired last year in Brussels, in Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre), and Georg Nigl (who apparently made a huge impression for his Wozzeck in Moscow). The two were indeed incredible at the premiere. Not only would they produce improbable sounds to reflect all kinds of moods that either complete or oppose each other's passion, but they would dance throughout the show as if they were professional dancers.

As you probably already know, I am not into dancing -- I simply do not resonate with that form of art -- but I still managed to enjoy several captivating moments of this show.

Barbara Hannigan and Georg Nigl

So what is it?
2 persons – Him and Her – and an ensemble of 3 voices - The Others. A small orchestra with harpsichord, in addition to oud that is used to perform a solo number in the last part of the show.

The libretto is written in Italian (most probably, as homage to Monteverdi) and it's sung with no supertitles as not to distract the public from what's happening on the stage. You can pick up a few words of what they're singing but you soon realize that the text is not what should guide you -- the aim is to let the music, voices and the body language tell the story [Libretto is given in the program-booklet that I could consult only after the show], and express the passions that unite and oppose these two individuals. The story is vaguely the one from Orpheus.

As for the music, I understand it is a question of taste and while many contemporary music aficionados were exulted, I simply failed to share that enthusiasm: I guess my brain is still too analytical, I'm constantly looking for elusive structures, trying to combine the elements into something that would give something cogent...  In this music the structure is basically inexistent although you can try to build the case against that statement: the structures would start but they constantly escape to take shape or form...  It is one of those currents in contemporary music when people avoid to rationalize and claim that this music talks to your subconscious-self... Fine, but I understood once again this can never fully work with me.

Scenically, it is really brilliant and a short video appended below is a non-representative sample of what actually happens on the stage. It however shows you how Hannigan and Nigl are totally in osmosis with the dancers.

1 comment:

  1. How long is this opera? how many acts or scenes does it have? can you share the libretto - if possible?