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LOD Muziektheater - Zelle © Masao Yamamoto i
ZELLE: Wenn es dunkel wird is an invitation to travel together to the limits of the seeable, the hearable, the comprehensible and imagine the truth of the world which lies beyond perceived reality. A chamber opera by British-Chinese composer and director Jamie Man/ 文珮玲 and Swiss author Peter Stamm.
After being accused of having killed her children in the mountains, a woman is being taken to an interrogation cell. The interrogator tries to look for answers, but the woman never speaks. "Where are the children? What did you do to them? Why did you do it?", she asks. Through asking these questions, the interrogator slowly discovers herself. Her questions open doors into her own history, her own imagination, and at the same time, the audience enters theirs. It becomes harder and harder to distinguish reality from imagination. The truth is covered in fog and darkness; a mismatch between what is seen, heard, expected, ephemeral and eternal.
Among Jamie Man's inspirations are Jean-Luc Godard's use of montage as a mechanism of interrogating stories and subjects, the dark surrealism of David Lynch's Red Room (the anomalous extradimensional space in the Twin Peaks series), and the Japanese tradition of Noh theatre.
British-Chinese composer and director Jamie Man brings together an interesting mix of artistic profiles for 'ZELLE'. Together with acclaimed Swiss author Peter Stamm (1963) Jamie Man worked on the text and concept in an early phase of the project.For the scenography, she works together with Ezra Veldhuis (1991), a young Dutch scenographer who also likes to work with the evocative effects of light and darkness on a spectator. The young Norwegian designer Frederik Tjaerandsen, who shocked the international fashion scene with his creation of 'balloon dresses' in 2019 with his bachelors graduation show at Central St.martins, London, makes his opera debut with 'ZELLE'.
Tomas Serrien, the young music philosopher and winner of the Geert Grote Pen for his debut book KLANK (not yet translated into english) works with the team as dramaturg.
Immersive, raw electronics is mixed with live human voices; a Noh performer (Ryoko Aoki), a throat singer (Jackie Janssens), a soprano (Natascha Young) and countertenor (Steve Katona). As a female Nôh singer (Nôh theatre, traditionally only performed by men who must be born into a Nôh family) Aoki’s low range voice sits in the center of all the vocalists. Jackie, whose voice is the bass of the ensemble, brings in an immense vibration in her body, making it a physical experience for the audience to hear her sing and improvise. The voice of the German-Vietnamese countertenor Steve Katona meets Natascha Young, a German-American soprano who also sings jazz.
In a game of visual and aural mismatch and re-match between sounds, voices, faces, bodies, objects, a language of fluidity is shared which seeks to traverse freely the borders of the symbolic, the imaginary and the real.