Now more than ever, we stay comitted to our goal of moving our audience with our art. That is why we have been working hard to continue to bring you the beauty of opera and ballet, even now that we can't enter our opera house just yet. A brand new series of video performances, titled #imaginationisalive, is the result.
Famous artists who are a part of our artistic family, such as Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Tom Goossens, Krystian Lada and Drew Jacoby work together with our singers, dancers and musicials to create these social distancing proof miniature artworks. Our two hometowns of Antwerp and Ghent form the stage. Sometimes you will see more opera, sometimes more ballet, but we always aim for a combination of both. As we begin with solo's and duets, we hope to increase in size in a later phase.
exit/awakening - Matt Foley & Kristie Su
For the first video of the series, principal Matt Foley and concert master Kristie Su were inspired by Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff. In their work, they express the artist wanting to break free from an artistic lockdown, and wants to reach out to the audience.
Choreography & dance: Matt Foley | Violin: Kristie Su
Quartet - Steven Prengels
In the second video, 'Quartet', composer Steven Prengels brings a sensory nightly encounter between Jacques Tati and Richard Wagner. To the tunes of the solo for cor anglais from Tristan und Isolde, dancer Joseph Kudra brings a playful and subtle choreography. The setting reminds one of Tati's masterpiece Mon Oncle.
Concept & direction: Steven Prengels | Choreography & dance: Joseph Kudra | Cor anglais: Tom van de Graaf | Eyes: Davy Smets & William Helliwell
Murmuration - Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
In the third video, Szymon Brzóska’s work for piano Murmuration of Starlings forms the acoustic landscape in which Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui transposes a turbulent collectivity into one single dancer’s body.
Music: Szymon Brzóska | Piano: Conal Bembridge-Sayers | Concept & choreography: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui | Dance: Daniel Domenech | Outfit Daniel: Jan-Jan Van Essche
Roxana's Song - Krystian Lada
For Roxana's Song, Kystian Lada was inspired by the opera Król Roger, in which the confrontation between mankind and nature is the main theme. Lada sees links between the story and the current pandemic. There are limits to man's unfettered ego, and he must aknowledge nature's superior power. For Lada, the future lies in a precious balance between ego and eco. The voice of the soprano is a force of nature that awakens an awareness in mankind - in this case, a dancer.
Concept & direction: Krystian Lada | Choreography & dance: Aaron Shaw | Music: Karol Szymanowski - Roxana's aria from Król Roger | Arrangement: Kasia Głowicka | Soprano: Dagmara Dobrowolska | Flute: Melanie Roosken | Oboe: Arie van der Beek | Study: Pedro Beriso
Pie Jesu - Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Pie Jesu is the second miniature by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui after dance solo Murmuration. One dancers symbolizes life, the other symbolizes death. The monumental and spiritual context of the cathedral in Antwerp gives this miniature a new breath of life.
Music: Gabriel Fauré - Pie Jesu from Requiem | Soprano: Annelies Van Gramberen | Organ: Conal Bembridge-Sayers | Choreography and direction: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui | Dance: Nicha Rodboon and Philipe Lens
Many thanks to the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal
Anepafa - Andonis Foniadakis
Physical contact has taken on a different meaning recently. We want to hold each other, but can't. In Anepafa (Greek for 'lack of contact'), two dancers show that longing to touch each other. A powerful and contemporary choreography by Andonis Foniadakis.
Concept & choreography: Andonis Foniadakis | Dance: Hector Ferrer & Misako Kato | Music: Luciano Berio - Psy | Double bass: Aykut Dursen
Bei Mir Bistu Shein - Barbora Horáková & Fanny Gilbert-Collet
Barbora Horáková and Fanny Gilbert-Collet give their perspective on the new reality we are all in. A visit to the barber shop, so trivial before the lockdown, nowadays feels like a controversial statement in a discussion about essential and non-essential workers. The Yiddish love song 'Bei Mir Bistu Shein', written for the musical 'I Would if I Could' in 1932, is the musical groundwork for this miniature performance. The English version, popularised by The Andrew Sisters in 1937, is sung here by Herlinde Van Den Bossche, Marta Babic and Sandra Paelinck. If you watch closely, you can even see a cameo by artistic director Jan Vandenhouwe!
Concept & direction: Barbora Horáková & Fanny Gilbert-Collet | Music: Sholom Secunda & Jacob Jacobs - Bei Mir Bistu Shein | Arrangement, piano & musical coaching: Pedro Beriso | Trumpet: Serge Rigaumont | Soprano: Herlinde Van Den Bossche | Mezzo: Marta Babic, Sandra Paelinck | Extras:
Pedro Beriso, Serge Rigaumont, Jan Schweiger, Peter Bellemans, Jan Vandenhouwe
Iustitia - Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
The post-modern pavillion by Charles Vandenhove at the Middelheim Museum forms the background for Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's third video miniature. Principal Nancy Osbaldeston takes on the role of Lady Iustitia, searching for the balance between good and evil.
Concept & choreography: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui | Music: Wim Henderickx - Fragment uit RAGA III voor altviool en elektronica | Viola: Béatrice Derolez | Dance: Nancy Osbaldeston
Zuilenpaviljoen, Charles Vandenhove (City of Antwerpen Collection)
Many thanks to the Middelheimmuseum
Solitary Dialogues - Sammy Van den Heuvel & Femke Gyselinck
Sammy Van den Heuvel and Femke Gyselinck explore the feeling of loneliness in this monumental video performance, Solitary Dialogues. The Grand Duet for cello and piano by the hand of Russia's most renowned composers, Galina Ustvolskaya, accompanies this journey.
Concept, scenography and direction: Sammy Van den Heuvel | Choreographic advice: Femke Gyselinck | Music: Galina Ustvolskaya - Grand Duet for cello and piano | Performer: Morgana Cappellari | Cello: Jadranka Gasparovic | Piano: Pedro Beriso
Cold Genius - Drew Jacoby
With choreographies like Supreme and Mad Scene, former principal at Opera Ballet Vlaanderen Drew Jacoby has proven to have found a unique choreographic voice. With her alienating movements and aesthetics she draws the viewer into a world which is often absurd, eccentric and at the same time fantastical. The mysterious Cold Genius is no different. Jacoby uses this performance to express the 'mourning state of the world'. Shouldn't we awaken from the stillness, the feeling of being frozen in a situation without an escape? In Purcells opera we see Cold Genius and Cupid in reconciliation, but in this haunting and dark performance, a way out is not on the table. Principal Matt Foley dances the solo, musically accompanied by Justin Hopkins and Conal Bembridge-Sayers.
Concept and choreography: Drew Jacoby | Music: Henry Purcell - What Power Art Thou from King Arthur | Dance: Matt Foley | Bass-baritone: Justin-Hopkis | Harpsichord: Conal Bembridge-Sayers
Perspect - Acacia Schachte
The Canadian dancer and choreographer Acacia Schachte was until recently tied to the house as a dancer of Opera Ballet Vlaanderen. At the moment she works as a choreographer and choreographic assistant. For her video miniature she created Perspect, a duet for dancers Lara Fransen and Brent Daneels, in which the theme of connection plays a central role. The music is performed by two percussionists of Opera Ballet Vlaanderen: Roel Vanderspikken en Ken Gybels.
Choreography: Acacia Schachte | Performance: Lara Fransen, Brent Daneels | Music: Richard Stevens | Percussion: Roel Vanderspikken, Ken Gybels
Leck Mich im Arsch - Benjamin Abel Meirhaeghe
Leck mich im Arsch! Laßt uns froh sein! The start of a six-part canon in which Mozart audibly raises his musical middle finger. Over two centuries later, the call to action of this quite deranged drinking song still speaks to us: director Benjamin Abel Meirhaeghe believes we collectively need a well-deserved je m'en fous. He gathers six singers and one dancer for an astonishing ritual that walks the line between celebration and initiation, mechanics and humanity, numbness and extasis. At the centre of this circular trip we find a jester, charming the voices like snakes and allowing them to wander deeper and deeper into a forest of sound.
Concept and direction: Benjamin Abel Meirhaeghe | Choreography and performance: Gary Lecoutre | Choreography and director's assistant: Olivier Patey | Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Leck Mich im Arsch | Vocal ensemble: Christa Biesemans, Bea Desmet, Raphaele Green, Davy Smets, Thierry Vallier, Guido Verbelen | Electronics: Laurens Mariën
And let the air no more - Kyle Abraham
In the subtlest way, American choreographer Kyle Abraham depicts the injustic, sadness and hopelessness expressed within Rossini's Willow Song. The poetic images, the pure joy of the encounters between the dancers and the hopeful glances offer a way out. Because hope gives life! For this video, harp player Arielle Valibouse created a poetic arrangement of one of the repertoire's most beloved arias, which is performed in the most emotive manner by soprano and choir member Jennifer Coleman. Choreographer and rising star Kyle Abraham creates a moving choreography for four of our dancers: Claudio Cangialosi, Mikio Kato, Ruka Nakagawa and Lateef Williams.
Concept and choreografie: Kyle Abraham | Music: Gioachino Rossini - Assisa a pie' d'un salice uit Otello | Arrangement and harp: Arielle Valibouse | Soprano: Jennifer Coleman | Dance: Claudio Cangialosi, Mikio Kato, Ruka Nakagawa, Lateef Williams
The Attendance - Tom Goossens
In this final video performance, titled The Attendance, we shine a light on our colleagues behind the scenes for the first time: maintenance lady Nicole Schuurmans and accountant Pieter Van Oostveldt, two employees who serve as essential support to the artistic process within our house. After their daily responsibilities, they are confronted with an empty hall. When, moments later, they see a singer perform on the street, they decide to put everything in motion to allow him one more performance.
Choir member Jung Kun Oh is the Singer, violinist Katelijne Vinkeroye and pianist Conal Bembridge-Sayers move the orchestra pit, the musical fundament of any opera. All of this was conceptualized and directed by director Tom Goossens. Before The Attendance, he's contributed to Opera Ballet Vlaanderen in his productions Banket! and Der Jasager.
Concept and direction: Tom Goossens | Music: Ludwig van Beethoven - Variations on the aria Se vuol ballare | Performance: Nicole Schuurmans, Pieter Van Oostveldt, Jung-Kun Oh | Piano: Conal Bembridge-Sayers | Violin: Katelijne Vinkeroye
These video performances are a series within the #ImaginationIsAlive initiative from Opera Ballet Vlaanderen.
Project coordination, budgeting, contracts: Jan Henric Bogen | Planning: Wim Van Brussel | Practical coordination, safety: Ilka De Wilde | Dramaturgical development: Koen Bollen | Post-production, marketing: Claïs Lemmens | Director of photography: Sebastiaan Beysen | Editing: Simon Robbrecht