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Sacrum Profanum Festiwal

Meet Euridice at the Sacrum Profanum


Andrzej Kwieciński’s Personaggi: Euridice and Agata Zubel’s Madrigals resound on the third day (13 September) of the Sacrum Profanum Festival at the Museum of Municipal Engineering. Both works reach to early music for inspiration. Kwieciński’s fascination with the Baroque is revealed through his stylisations and use of citations, while Zubel presents a respectful take on the historical genre with her own, bold interpretation. They open a creative dialogue with the Misteria Paschalia Festival during which Elizabethan music is interpreted in irreverent style by Raphael Roginski, one of the favourites of Sacrum Profanum audiences. This marks the beginning of a collaboration between the festivals; neither exists in a vacuum, and they serve as mutual inspiration.

Personaggi: Euridice is a composition for vocals and orchestra with elements of stage action; it remains far removed from traditional opera while being an excellent example of music theatre. During Sacrum Profanum, we will see the world premiere of an extended version of Kwieciński’s work. “The starting point is the myth about Orpheus and Eurydice, but instead of focusing on that which is stated it presents things left unsaid. Orpheus’s myth paints a purely male world in which Eurydice is just a bland decoration, a memory nameless in its essence. Eurydice belongs to a dimension shaped by mirage and illusion; even her death is coincidental. She belongs to the afterlife, the world of the dead, and as such to theatre. However, this is not a ritual retelling of the myth; it is an alchemical experiment bringing to life an individual from an ‘unworld’. It attempts to find Eurydice’s voice, a voice which is initially multiplied in the many narratives while remaining purely hypothetical. But there is no single objective version here, and the choir as a collective only serves to add to the sense of unreal. The collective is impersonal,” says Kwieciński, co-author of the concept. He continues, “The libretto, written in Italian, uses fragments of 17th-century operas to create a ragged narrative: Eurydice doesn’t know who she is or how she feels. Is she suffering, or is she happy? Is she a protagonist, or merely a witness to her own life? Perhaps an echo of a repeated text? I reached for excerpts from Virgil’s Georgics, Ovid’s Metamorphoses and 18th-century operas rooted in the Orpheus myth – Euridice by Peri/Caccini/Rinucci, L’Orfeo by Monteverdi/Striggio, La morte d’by Orfeo Landi/Landi, Orfeo by Rossi/Buti, or by Sartorio/Aureli – to create a contemporary take on the tale.”

“Orpheus’s story is a men’s story. That's why I was interested in telling it from Eurydice’s point of view. She’s in the underworld, broken into several parts of herself. Twenty-four facets of her personality coexist, talk and argue. Eurydice is the personification of humankind’s existential questions, doubts and debates,” says Nathalie Gendrot, author of the libretto. She adds, “Eurydice is rooted in a distant past and obliged to behave in a certain way; the references to Baroque gestures and poetic language which she is trying to escape symbolise her struggle to break free from the underworld – her existential prison.”

The concert opens with Agata Zubel’s Madrigals, providing an unconventional take on song titles. It is a cycle of works which, while being imbued with emotion, are stripped of literal meaning, in contrast to traditional songs of everyday secular stories filled with feeling. Madrigals carry a clear and high emotional charge, although it is expressed purely through vocalisations and contemporary singing techniques.

Tickets for Personaggi: Euridice go on sale on 28 March!

The week-long 16th Sacrum Profanum Festival opens on 11 September. The Festival is organised and hosted by the City of Kraków and the Kraków Festival Office.

Personaggi: Euridice

Agata Zubel – Madrigals for five voices (2015) [Polish premiere]

Andrzej Kwieciński (music, libretto), Nathalie Gendrot (dramaturgy, libretto), Robert Wasiewicz (choreography) – Personaggi: Euridice (2016-18) [world premiere]

Szymon Bywalec – conductor
Polish Radio Choir
New Music Orchestra

7pm // Museum of Municipal Engineering

The concert was prepared jointly with the Sonoris Art Foundation.

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