Today, the second opéra composed by French composer Marc-André Dalbavie will be performed for the first time in Salzburg at the Felsenreitschule.
‘A person is sitting beside the sea. He is painting. A tune suddenly enters his mind. As he starts to hum it, he notices that the tune exactly matches what he is trying to commit to paper. A text forms in his head, and he starts to sing the tune with his own words, over and over again in a loud voice until the painting seems complete.’ This is how Charlotte Salomon describes the genesis of her fascinating series of paintings, Life? Or Theatre? The young Jewish artist had fled to southern France following the Kristallnacht pogrom in Berlin on the night of 9/10 November 1938, where she joined her grandparents. She was living in Villefranche when the Second World War broke out. Afraid of the troops who were drawing ever closer from Nazi Germany, her grandmother threw herself to her death from an upstairs window. Her grandfather then told her that when Charlotte was nine her mother had ended her life in the same way. Even worse, she now discovered that a whole series of other relatives had committed suicide. Charlotte sensed that if she, too, was not to fall victim to the family curse or to go mad, she would have to do ‘something altogether insanely special’.(reproduced from the Salzburger Festspiele website)
Dalbavie's first opera, Gesualdo, based on the life of the famous composer was first performed in October 2010 in Zurich. His second opera has a libretto written by Barbara Honigmann, after Charlotte Salomon's own work, then translated into French.
The cast includes Johanna Wokalek, Marianne Crebassa, Jean-Sébastien Bou, Frédéric Antoun, Vincent Le Texier, Cornelia Kallisch, Eric Huchet. The composer conducts the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg and Luc Bondy directs. The first performance will be broadcast live by Austrian radio Ö1.