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Wagner, the director and the videographer

Posted Jan 20, 2023, 3:25 PM

For the sixth time, the Paris Opera is performing Wagner’s grand opera, “Tristan and Isolde” accompanied by pictures by Invoice Viola (born in 1951) with the American Peter Sellars as director and below the baton of Gustavo Dudamel. The present is breathtaking and the 5 hours of presence within the room (two intermissions included) go very simply, as a result of the motion takes place in a type of augmented actuality. There may be what occurs on stage and in addition what occurs behind on the 11.7 x 6.7 meter display screen. Two parallel visions which put in abyss and make the existence of the 2 heroes coexist, introduced themselves virtually completely as a pair.

The curiosity of this work developed in 2005 is as a result of reality, as Peter Sellars explains in our interview, that the photographs designed by the pioneer of video artwork, Invoice Viola, have been imagined in accordance with not music however textual content. It is all of the extra fascinating that the video will not be a literal illustration of the story. The opera offers with the topic of not possible love but in addition, as Sellars factors out, with an countless melody linked to the concept of ​​Karma found by Wagner on the time – we discover in one of many songs the next phrases : “My father fathered me and died, my mom fathered me and died. Why was I born? » .

Paradoxically Tristan and Isolde has additionally change into an important work of the American visible artist, solely seen at present, not in a museum, however accompanied by an orchestra, singers and 100 musicians. On a musical background we discover Viola’s obsessions: the metaphysical dimension of life, which passes via the elemental presence of water. If we follow the plastic facet, we’ll first bear in mind from this staging that it’s actually and symbolically an immense work on time. Time for the interview with Peter Sellars…

What do Tristan and Isolde imply to you?

Wagner in “Tristan and Isolde” found the concept of ​​Karma. On the finish of the nineteenth century in Germany he learn Buddhist texts. Whenever you learn them at present, they’re incomprehensible. Now we have now the Dalai Lama who’s form of our pal, our neighbor. On the time nobody knew what Buddhism was, however Wagner understood it. And fashionable science has confirmed it: every cell of our physique is the car of trauma from our mom, our grandparents, earlier generations.

Is that what you present right here?

Wagner is the primary within the historical past of Western music to create an countless melody with “Tristan and Isolde”. It crosses generations and civilizations. Earlier than, every little thing was figures with a refrain, arias… Now Wagner expresses an eternity. Invoice Viola and his spouse Kira lived in Japan within the Seventies when Sony was continually delivering video improvements. Not solely did they work with Sony however additionally they had a Zen grasp. Every thing Wagner was making an attempt to guess really Invoice Viola figured it out.

Inform us in regards to the genesis of the challenge with Invoice Viola…

Invoice and Kara have been one of many foremost motivations that made me determine to maneuver to California. Repeatedly I proposed to Invoice to collaborate with me within the subject of theater however he refused. On the event of his retrospective, which toured the USA after which Holland, we labored intently on the catalog and the staging of the exhibition. However his will to steer clear of the theater was agency.

Till Wagner…

Sure Wagner, with “Tristan and Isolde”, invented the entire murals, a “Gesamkunswerk” during which music, poetry, dance, and the visible arts enter into communion. To direct it, I wanted an artist who might look Wagner within the eye, who might set up a dialogue with him.

What was Viola’s relationship to Wagner’s music?

No relationship till he filmed the entire thing. Invoice selected to not be caught up on this music. He solely responded to Wagner’s textual content. He needed his pictures to have the identical energy as music. That is what creates the shock. The critics at all times need every little thing to obey the music.

You aren’t searching for concord?

As an instance I am not searching for her 24 hours a day. Life can also be about contrasts and confrontations.

Invoice Viola confirmed up along with his suitcase filled with pictures…

First Invoice and I talked so much about “Tristan and Iseult”. Then he closed the door and disappeared. Invoice travels deep inside himself. He returned two years later, in 2004, with 5 hours of unbelievable video. That is such an distinctive reward. I’ve seen her for 18 years now. I do know her extraordinarily nicely.

What was your response?

I accepted it immediately and began to ascertain a dialogue together with her. I’ve an enormous accountability as a result of that is actually the best and strongest of Invoice Viola’s “reside” works. A bit that requires an orchestra of 100 individuals and choirs of greater than 30 individuals. You possibly can’t see it in a museum. He financed it by promoting scraps to personal collectors or museums. As a result of no establishment can finance 5 hours of a piece by Invoice Viola. It concerned Hollywood means, airplane hangars, enormous groups, a wall of fireside but in addition against this, capturing with a digicam dealing with the ocean, in Lengthy Seashore. In fact, as it’s Viola the sundown is magnificent, legendary. Invoice takes you to cosmic locations.

Since 2005, you’re exhibiting this manufacturing for the sixth time. Did you alter the scene?

Day by day I make adjustments. Casting is among the huge adjustments this time round. You may have a black Isolde and that fully adjustments the story. Our notion has modified. In at present’s society one can really feel anger and rage. How are we going to achieve a stage of reconciliation and understanding? We spent a number of time throughout rehearsals crying all of the tears from our eyes. A liberating act.

“Tristan and Isolde” by Richard Wagner. Paris, Opéra Bastille, www.operadeparis.fr till February 4.

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