When creating an opera, Pascal Dusapin starts with images that portray the emotion he wants to convey through his piece. For this opera the theme is the pain that women endure. His title ‘Passion’ pertains to the passion that women feel, but also holds a sort of Christ-like definition with a certain amorous ecstasy for suffering. But far from being a Christianity inspired piece, Dusapin inclined more towards mythology for his tangible character inspiration, in the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Convinced that Orpheus kills Eurydice in order to feel the pain that he needs to continue his captivating melodies and poems, Dusapin wanted to put an emphasis on the movement that brings a man and a woman together or draws them apart.
And who better to do that than Sasha Waltz, for this choreographic opera. Originally from Karlsruhe in Germany, Waltz studied in Amsterdam and New York for her formation. This new creation isn’t the first time Dusapin has infiltrated her work. Her first choreographic opera Dido & Aeneas was a production inspired by Dusapin’s Medeamaterial. Waltz sees the hell that Eurydice falls into synonymous with the weighted failures of the daily trials and errors for a man and a woman to find harmony in their meeting and re meeting because the objective is put on too high of a pedestal for the relationship to be able to obtain the level of connection desired. As for the movement that she gives the two main characters, she is looking for more passivity than combat in the struggle to find one another. “Whether it pertains to hell or to a separation, they are in all simplicity far from one another in the profound aspiration, and alone in their search” she said in an interview with dramaturgy artist Ilka Seifert.
The movement of the main characters did display a high level of passivity, as they were driven about the stage by the company (Sahsa Waltz and Guests) of dancers that accompanied them. There was an intense fluidity to the movement of the entire piece that was well accentuated by the sublime costumes by Hussein Chalayan, that could be seen as somewhat inspired by a ancient mythological aesthetic but were conceived with the movement in mind for the clothes draped the dancers and moved with them as if they themselves had choreographic instructions.The lighting and decorum and added electro-acoustics added a final aspect to the entire opera to offer an auditive depth, a visual texture and a mysteriousness that had complimented the whole production. The lighting was often from side stage or a corner, low, and soft and accentuated the skin of the dancers who had all different shades of color from pure white to deep brown. Accentuated by the lights and darks of the costumes, the skin and the different colors proposed a sensual feel to the mise en scène which was heightened by the agile dancers who engaged in every kind of contact dance in the contemporary field. Feathers and helium-filled balloons gave a texture at the last movement of the opera as a sort of finale where all the magic happens or falls. With for a backdrop a video realized elsewhere of Lei, the heroine, running, falling backwards and losing her balance in a very industrial setting with stone, cement and metal all around. The romance is gone, the poetry is gone, the music floats away as easily as a feather or a lost balloon.
(Thilo Reuther created the decorum and lighting and Thierry Coduys created the electro-acoustics).