Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Damien Jalet, Marina Abramovic and Iris Van Herpen to present a new production of the Opera Pelléas aet Mélisande (1902)

Dear Shaded Viewers,

In 2018, marking the centennial of French composer Claude Debussy’s death, video-installation artist Marco Brambilla will collaborate with the finest leaders of the creative world: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Damien Jalet, Marina Abramovic and Iris Van Herpen to present a new extraordinary visual production of the Opera Pelléas aet Mélisande (1902). The last production of this opera was created by innovative theatre director Bob Wilson in 1997, and before that French artist Jean Cocteau designed sets for the production of the opera in 1963.
The production presents a new concept of abstract staging for an opera, where the entire scene is formed by a concave mirror. The backdrop extends to an inclined floor merging seamlessly to create the impression of being inside a silver eye ball. In the centre of the mirrored ‘retina’ a suspended ‘iris’ 7-meters in diameter will screen Brambilla’s video compositions. The stage will personify the well of tears which occupies a big part within the setting of the opera, and embodies its extreme melancholia and oneiric aspect.  The overall impact is representative of being inside a surreal version of a planetarium.
In Brambilla’s creations commissioned for Pelléas et Mélisande, the screen acts as a portal into the subconscious of the characters and the actions unfolding onstage. The narrative is told using a reinvention of the cosmos, created using original NASA footage manipulated into a surrealist composition, which takes the viewer on a metaphysical journey into the subconscious through a series of celestial pathways.
Their vision will bring to the surface the unspoken tensions and complex relationships that give the characters in Pelléas et Mélisande their power and will create a psychological ‘portal’ of loneliness, violence, drama, resolution and death.
Video-installation artist, Marco Brambilla:
“The music of Pelléas et Mélisande has always conjured up images of the cosmos in my head. Since the text deals with the recurring theme of the eyes and sight, Marina Abramovic’s set design uses seven monolithic crystals and an onstage projection disc as the pupil of a symbolic eye. This becomes a portal into the subconscious where my videos unfold and heighten the tension and drama unfolding onstage. Using celestial bodies as my brushstrokes created such unexpected compositions and shapes; I don’t think the Hubble space telescope imagery has ever been used this way.”
The production will premiere in Antwerp on 2nd of February 2018 and will tour Europe including Luxemburg, Strasbourg, Geneva and Venice in 2019.
  • Co-directors: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet
  • Set Design: Marina Abramovic
  • Video Projections: Marco Brambilla
  • Costumes: Iris Van Herpen
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Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.

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