music theatre, baritone, cello, percussion, samples, video
Romain Bischoff, baritone
duration: ± 60 minutes
created together with Luuk Vierhout
premiere: 17 May 2007, Festival aan de Werf, Utrecht.
Muze (Muse) is an adaptation of the Orpheus myth. In a long abandoned archive of video tapes, holding the personal statements of various people, Orpheus is searching for traces of his lost love. From the witness statements on the video tapes, he edits together his own life story, gradually disturbing the order in the archive. His actions however, do not go unnoticed. Eventually, Orpheus will be forced to see the consequences of his self-made story.
Musically, the baritone is searching for his voice, his brilliant singing voice seems lost somewhere in this vast archive too. As he puzzles together his story, so does the music, using recognisable fragments of Schubert's 'Winterreise' as basic musical material. A cello and percussion musically accompany and challenge the singer. Situated on either side of the stage, they seem to keep the singer pinned in this estranging archive.
The set is a clear and simple design of a large white projection screen at back, going all the way to the floor. In front of it the floor is made up of thousands of black VHS tapes. The floor represents the archive with testimonies, and as Orpheus is pulling tapes out of the floor to search for his Euridice, the stage becomes more chaotic. There's a tight integration with film images of Orpheus in various locations, but also documentary interviews with people serving as 'witnesses', people talking about things the have lost, they cherish, lost loved ones.
At the climax of the opera, Orpheus finds a VHS tape that, when he pulls the tape out, reveals a live feed of himself, in the hall, even with the audience that is in the hall right now. He starts pulling at the tape, rewinding the whole show up until the very beginning; the audience sees themselves getting up in reverse and leaving the hall. And even further back, he finds a time and a space where he will be confronted with the image of Euridice, trapped in an underwater pose, frozen in time.
At this climatic moment, the entire floor—the couple-of-thousand tapes, are pulled back and disappear under the white projection screen.
concept, composition, film: Arnoud Noordegraaf
concept, scenario, set design, light: Luuk Vierhout
costume design: Dieuweke van Reij
coach: Gerardjan Rijnders
set construction: Edd Vossen
baritone (Orpheus): Romain Bischoff
percussion: Marcel Andriessen
cello: Saartje van Camp
acteur (on film): Raymond Thiry Spannet
Euridice (on film): Doris Madreiter
stage photos by Anna van Kooy