Music Theatre in Two Parts

on works by Juha T. Koskinen and Hans Werner Henze
texts by William ShakespeareHeiner Müller
and Jules Laforgue


Ophelia/Tiefsee de Juha T. Koskinen + Katharina Blum de Hans Werner Henze

World premiere of Ophelia/Tiefsee on February 14th, 2017 at the Maison de la Radio (Paris)
in the framework of Festival Présences.

World premiere of the diptych Violences on February 6th, 2019 at the Finnish National Opera (Helsinki)
in the framework of Festival Musica Nova.

with Thomas Kellner, actor
Vladimir Percevic, solo viola
Chamber orchestra (16 musicians)

Libretto and stage direction  Aleksi Barrière
Musical direction  Clément Mao-Takacs

Lighting design  Étienne Exbrayat

The performance on February 14th 2017 was preceded by a concert by Secession Orchestra (premieres by Florent Motsch, Kaija Saariaho and Davor B. Vincze) and broadcast live on France Musique.

« How violence is born and where it can lead. » This question, formulated by German author Heinrich Böll as a subtitle to his novel The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1974), is the starting point of this show. A Wehrmacht deserter, and later a committed intellectual in West Germany, Böll wrote in a time where the attacks of the Red Army Faction of Baader and Meinhof spread fear and confusion. But the foremost violence, as Böll postulated, does not lie in the punching fist or the fired gun: it is in words, images, intellectual structures and in society, all powers that wear us down constantly.

We offer to bring this violence into the realm of the visible through two juxtaposed stories, stories of fictional women invented by men, and rewritten by other men over time. Heinrich Böll imagined Katharina Blum, and Shakespeare imagined Ophelia, to question their own masculine points of view, and invite us to the act of trying, in their footsteps, to fathom the perspective of the Other. Katharina Blum became the character of a Volker Schlöndorff movie, for which Hans Werner Henze wrote music. Ophelia has had many new faces, until Heiner Müller made her a symbol of insurrection based on Ulrike Meinhof, who had also been an inspiration for Böll. It is that very distillation process, operated through translations from one language and one medium to another, that we wish to make visible, and it is also how we hope to give words to these characters without speaking in place of them.

Music theatre has the unique power to explore the multiple dimensions of identity, emotion, collective pressure, by replacing univocality and consensus by something apparently similar but actually fundamentally opposite: harmony and counterpoint.

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