INCANTA, a preview of chamber opera

Posted on October 27, 2018

“The obstruction of a vessel that carries blood to the brain breaks the optimal blood circulation system of the brain and synaptic space. Knowing that the radius of the whole dendritic tree is about a millimetre… the continued prolongation of the axon terminates in a star-like arborization and is lost in the cerebellar night, the lateral hemisphere is bathed in liquid. <…>”

Text by Douna Loup. Performed by ensemble Asko/Schönberg : Clarinet-Bass Clarinet -Anna Voor de Wind , Trombone – Koen Kaptijn, Percussion – Noè Rodrigo, Electric Guitar – Wiek Hijmans, Violin – Marijke van Kooten, Violoncello – David Bordeleau, Double Bass – Quirijn van Regteren Altena, conducted by Joey Marijs, soprano Eduarda Melo, performer Aurélie Turlet, electronics Justina Repečkaitė. Recorded on Sunday the 8th of July 2018 at the church of Chartreuse Villeneuve lez Avignon during the festival Rencontres d’été, commissioned by TOTEM(s) project.

“Incantations, can they really heal? Sounds and vibrations, can they serve as remedies? After a stroke which upsets her brain, woman wakes up. Her language is impaired, modified, the forest of language became a tangled jungle. An interpreter helps her as a translator and together they feel their way forward. By invoking the ancestral power of words, a force of mysterious and repetitive incantations, the path of healing is drawn. Incanta is an exploration of a forest of meanings and sounds through the history of magic words to which people resorted when faced with danger, running through a witch hunt and the codes of secret chants.”

Writer Douna Loup

 

Thanks to TOTEM(s) project, creating Incanta I had a chance to collaborate with the award-winning Swiss writer Douna Loup in a mystical Carthusian monastery of the XIVth century. For the premiere we have chosen the opening of a church with a collapsed apse facing the medieval fortress of St André as a stage.

Incanta for ensemble, soprano, performer and electronics was created for the unique acoustics of a partially collapsed church. The electronics part had the only source of recording, – my own voice superposed in polyphonic manner and spatialized with four speakers situated in different chambers of the church. Played in this manner electronics part approaches the sound design of a field recording, for example the inside soundscape of a beehive, a pond with frogs or the forest of voices whispering charms… The ensemble Asko/Schönberg and voices emerge from this atmosphere. The composition consists of 3 parts: 1.Accident, 2.Forest and 3.Witch. The text in French guides from tragedy through healing, questioning linguistics, charms and superstition. Singer does not pronounce a single phrase correctly and a performer interprets her and the build up of the whole dramatic situation.

At Chartreuse Villeneuve-lez-Avignon I was amazed by the amount of noises of birds and crickets. I appreciated how they interfered with my music while performing. In the recording you can hear the sound of two pigeons that entered the church and started fighting each other from the very beginning of the piece. Not only it mixes well with the percussion part, but it also enriches the composition itself. In the beginning and at the end of Incanta where the performer recites the text, instead of silence, the background noise of crickets is heard. It creates a completely new atmosphere which is very different to sterile impact of a concert hall where the absolute silence is required.

We performed Incanta three evenings in a row and thanks to the fantastic musicians of Asko/Schönberg, soprano Eduarda Melo and performer Aurélie Turlet every time it was a very moving experience. Pope’s Innocent VI tomb was laying near the stage and I thank him for founding this amazing monastery centuries ago.

Justina Repeckaite