Behind the scenes

Notes on the musical direction

Oct 08 2013 Sophie Tessier
Notes on the musical direction

Kris Defoort


I immerse myself in the libretto and allow the text to set the scene which will give birth to a continuous musical piece. The relationship between Nadra and her father is very striking; in it I hear a tender and harrowing melody. Their path, the progressive loss of identity and the return of the emigrant evoke a constant melancholy.


I have chosen three musicians that I know very well for their musical personality and their ability to improvise to a very high standard. There is a steady balance in the range of sounds, between the cello and the clarinet (and bass clarinet) which are sometimes able to merge and take on an intimate flavour, and the piano, which satisfies my entire orchestral and harmonic imagination. My palette of sound incorporates anything from chamber music to full orchestral pieces, creating a music for today, enriched with anything else I can pull from my musical memory, from baroque to jazz to contemporary music, with some references to Arabian or Balkan sounds.


The choice of singers was made in consultation with Romain Bischoff, artistic director of Vocaal Lab. We are working with three different voices: a mezzo soprano for the part of Nadra, a bass able to sing countertenor for the father, and a baritone for the emigrant. Their voices will be pre-recorded and multiplied to incarnate the immigrants’ chorus, the vocal crowd mouthpiece of the exiles in the past, present and future. I would like to give a special strength to this virtual chorus by using an ostinato and by shouting words chanted by the acrobats.
As far as the soloists are concerned, I imagine an alternation between melodic songs and a more complex and natural language. Bursts of a capella could provide a contrast to the instrumental and experimental tracks. I would like the end to gather all the voices into an acoustic and luminous finale to highlight the transition into a new world.

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