Opera Ballet Vlaanderen presents timely premiere of new opera by Belgian composer
Opera Ballet Vlaanderen will host the world premiere of Brodeck, a timely story of a village processing traumatic events of the past, in Antwerp and Ghent.
Based on the 2007 French novel Brodeck's Report by Philippe Claudel and the 2015 graphic novel adaptation by Manu Larcenet, Belgian composer Daan Janssens and stage director Fabrice Murgia have translated this harrowing story into music, movement and visuals.
Janssens has reworked the dark allegory about war, xenophobia and memory into the libretto of his third opera to tell the multi-layered recollection of the narrator, Brodeck.
"The debate about how we remember and continue to tell the dark pages of history is timeless"
The story revolves around a man named The Other, an outsider in a tight-knit village community whose suspicions lead to the murder of his horse and, eventually, the man himself.
Brodeck, the opera's protagonist, enters a local establishment to buy butter and discovers the body of The Other. Confronting his fellow villagers, he is tasked with writing a report of the events. He is asked on behalf of the mayor of the village to document everything correctly but in a way that grants understanding and forgiveness to the people who committed the act.
© Opera Ballet Vlaanderen
The original novel has lost none of its urgency in its transition to the stage. "The debate about how we remember and continue to tell the dark pages of history is timeless," says Murgia of the plot. In accordance with a narrative that does not commit to a specific time period, costume designer Clara Peluffo Valentini tried to create a look for a community without distinct clues about the era or location. "The story can take place long ago or in the future, anywhere and with anyone," she says.
While the plot is timeless, having a living composer present as part of the rehearsals makes for a smooth creative process. "For me, it's great to have the composer there," conductor Marit Strindlund says. "It's much easier to turn around and ask: Is this what you wanted? Instead of sitting at home and speculating about what Mozart might have wanted."
The co-production with Opéra national de Lorraine in collaboration with LODmuziektheater runs from 9 February until 9 March.
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