Casemates, Luxembourg

Right in the Casemates, the underground defence system built by the occupying Spanish army, later completed  by the French and the Austrians (altogether between 1644 and 1746) will take place the premiere as well as subsequent performances of the instrumental opera The Dark by Albena Petrovic. The premiere is scheduled for June 20, at 8 p.m., with two abbreviated representations on June 21 at 6 and 9 p.m.

Luxembourgish composer Petrovic says: « It was my desire to create a work to be executed in the Bock Casemates, a tourist spot today, but charged of energy and memory of human destinies, wars and occupations. » The extraordinary complex of underground passages and galleries known as the casemates is indeed a witness of the history of the City of Luxembourg.

The Dark is a work for soprano solo and the seven instrumentalists of the performing ensemble Lucilin, flute, violin, viola, cello, saxophone, keyboard, percussion.

Petrovic: « I invented the instrumental opera as a ‘new’ kind of evolving instrumental theatre by Stockhausen. After the premiere of my instrumental theatre ‘The Return of the Butterflies’ which I composed for Lucilin in 2010, (it was dedicated to Stockhausen) I decided to start a ‘purist’ musical project, where visual effects are reduced to zero to fix the attention of the spectator to the sound and the dramatic development. »

Initially, the main role was planned to be the esoteric symbiosis of Eurydice, Medea and Persephone, yet now it is « a contemporary woman bearing traces of these legendary predecessors, moving between good and evil and conflicting psychological states. The music goes with it, sometimes kind and gentle, sometimes with sudden contrasts leading to the end of despair and suffering, as it used to be in real operas. The plot developes the emotional exchanges between the female main character and the ’emotions’ – in other words – the fictional characters who ‘live’ in the dark, away from light and humans. Every fictional character carries a trace of character – for example – jealousy, temptation, revenge, etc. This is actually where it differs from real hero fictional characters, they do not undergo any change or development, and they act as fixed ideas. »

The composer adds: « I allowed myself to go further in sound research with new acoustic ‘instruments’, and the challenge, that some are never used before in any occidental instrumentations. There is in the music an ‘unusual’ part of the search for very specific sounds, using non-musical objects that are treated in the score as instruments. Sounds and motives are the holders of the characters in this opera, or in the absence of visual input, the viewer follows a purely musical and emotional drama. »

The Casemates du Bock ensure that much of the opera takes place in the dark. There is no real light for musicians and the public. However, artificial light is indicated in the score and plays an important role in the unfolding drama.

More information here.


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