Anyone who attended the 2012 premiere in Madrid remembers C(H)OEURS as an explosive production. And as a brilliant example of crowd management. Alain Platel choreographed the Teatro Real chorus and ten dancers from les ballets C de la B ballets in a socially committed performance set to music by Verdi and Wagner. It is now time for an update. Together with the dancers, the chorus and the orchestra of Opera Ballet Vlaanderen, Platel examines what the world will look like in 2020.
It was Gerard Mortier, at the time intendant of Teatro Real, who got Platel to work on the operas of Verdi and Wagner. Set against the backdrop of the Arab Spring, the banking crisis and the protest from the Indignados, it was especially the choruses that had an enormous impact on Platel. And for good reason, because this music originated in equally turbulent times. Following the revolutions of 1848, Europe was left shaking on its foundations. In their operas, Verdi and Wagner gave a voice to their people, who wanted to live freely in a new national unity. Choral pieces such as ‘Va pensiero’ from Nabucco and the pilgrim choir in Tannhäuser grew into patriotic anthems. Even today, their magnetism is still compelling.
However, the beauty of the masses has a dangerous downside, which changes shape every so often. How does the progressive nationalism of the 19th century relate to recent trends in populism and protectionism? When does connectedness turn into herd behaviour? And which seismic counter-forces are evident in our feverish times? C(H)OEURS 2020 explores the relationship between individual and society, inner and outer world, and passion and convention in today’s world.