Chamber opera by Thierry Pécou



The story

This opera is about a major issue in our society: mankind’s relation to medicine and disease.
Although new technologies have caused a revolution in health care (nanotechnology, genetics, etc.), the same technological developments have a huge impact on our society; causing a growing destabilization of individuals, shown by the emergence of psychological and psychiatric disorders and the proliferation of serious diseases, due in large part to environmental degradation.
State of the art medication has now become essential to treat those diseases, and psychology is on the verge of replacing spirituality.
If we, living in our society of ‘making’ and ‘possessing’, encounter a culture in which people live in a constant balance with the natural forces around them, it is an almost alienating experience. But try to imagine their view on our world of ecological poverty: to them it must seem that we question or even deny the world we live in.
Can that balance ever be restored?
Since the dawn of time mankind has developed the belief that music could have healing power, physically as well as psychologically. Even nowadays there are civilizations that have a far more holistic view on health and illness than we have. Take the healing rituals of Native American tribes as an example: art, music and nature are part of the treatment.

The outcome

This opera is not about reproducing or imitating such a ritual, although we might use certain elements. It will be designed as a ‘reinvented’ ritual where instrumentalists, singers, artists, and other parties that might be interested (such as physicians, patients, researchers) come together in a series of sequences.
The opera will be built in several layers that will run simultaneously or parallel: mythological narratives (in dialogue form), a second layer repeating the first in a ritualized form (songs/aria’s, prayers, poems or even danced passages), and a third that can be filled in more freely. Think about an interaction between video (interviews with doctors, shamans, patients, etc.) and live music, participation from the audience, or a reconstruction on stage of situations people encountered related to health and illness.
The best possible outcome would be an opera that will go beyond the aesthetic dimension of the show, bringing the performance to a level where the opera can ‘act’ in itself: music and singing will interfere with the viewer-listener and act on their health, literally or metaphorically. Whether we will be able to reach that ultimate goal or not, it is always good to have a dream.

Number of people

Laura Tohe, booklet and formatted text
Carlos Wagner, stage director
Conductor - to be determined
Lydie Turco, video
Sound and video equipment - to be determined

Ensemble Variances:
5 wind and string instruments, 1 Fender Rhodes electric piano

3 singers - to be determined
Noa Frenkel, contralto


Opéra de Rouen Normandie,
Ensemble Variances
and others to be confirmed

Partnership: Opera Dagen Rotterdam, Théâtre La Renaissance, Neue Opera Wien, Théâtre de Caen

More information

Duration (estimation): 1h30
Prologue (optional): 45mn

Site: Laura Tohe
Site: Carlos Wagner

The Ensemble Variances receive support from Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication - Drac Normandie, Région Normandie, Spedidam, Sacem, Ville de Rouen, Odia Normandie, Onda. It is member of Fevis, Futurs Composés, Bureau Export and Profedim.