It’s beautiful, a room erected with a single impulse, the last note extinguished – embrace, one might say, so much the creation ofInnocence, this July 4, held in suspense, nearly two hours, the public of the Grand Théâtre de Provence. Eight years of work, including three for writing alone: ​​with this fifth lyrical opus, whose world premiere has been postponed for one season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the composer Kaija Saariaho (68) delivers a conductor -work, which immediately fits into the history of opera. A muffled rumble in the extreme bass, menacing bassoon and bass clarinet blades, flashes of percussion set forth the drama that will gradually unfold and unravel on the thrilling libretto by the writer of Finno-Estonian origin. , Sofi Oksanen, assisted by Aleksi Barrière, the composer’s son.

On the set, a rotating set in the shape of a Rubik’s Cube, integrating two scenic situations, apparently unrelated, which will gradually overlap: a family wedding party between the young Finn Tuomas and his Romanian fiancée, Stela, and a collective drama, lived ten years ago, whose resurgence will take the intermediary of a waitress of Czech origin, Tereza, hired as an extra at the last moment. His daughter, Marketa, was among the victims of this international high school, where a mass killing killed ten people, including a teacher.

All voice states

In this cosmopolitan opera, whose linguistic web brings together nine languages ​​(English, French, German, Spanish, Romanian, Czech, Finnish, Swedish and Greek), Kaija Saariaho skillfully explores all states of the voice – from simple words to singing lyrical, from monologue to bel canto. Between the two, hybridized forms, between theater and music.

From the precipitous flow of survivors, German, Greek or Spanish students, to the pernicious slowness of the French student, Iris, friend and accomplice of the killer, savoring each word with pleasure (Julie Hega), passing through the spoken-sung introspection of the Teacher crippled with guilt (remarkable Lucy Shelton), who saw nothing of this student fascinated by serial killers whose copies were full of quirks. In the center, the singular figure of the young Marketa, half angel half demon, youthful timbre and animal vocality, whose technique, linked to Scandinavian folk song, is one of the most striking elements of the score (incredible Vilma Jää ).

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It is she, the dead daughter of Tereza (the only one who has disappeared scenically incarnated), to whom are entrusted some of the key moments of the story. She who will laugh at the face of the disgraced boy in a little song, giving the signal for his collective harassment in the toilets of the establishment, passage to the act whose videos will ferment the revenge humiliation of the killer. She too, who will abound a necessary resilience, asking her mother who has not ceased for ten years to ritualize her presence, to let her – finally – go. “Mom, next year, don’t buy me a birthday present. Mom, let me go » (“Mom, next year, don’t buy me a birthday present. Mom, let me go”).

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