Krystian Lada Directs ROXANA'S SONG For Opera Ballet Vlaanderen
Roxana's Song is the fourth creation that Opera Ballet Vlaanderen is presenting as part of the Imagination is Alive campaign. Krystian Lada was inspired in part by the opera Król Roger, in which the confrontation between man and nature is a central theme. The composer Kasia Glowicka wrote a new orchestration for the music. The video is online and you can watch it here.
The second act of the opera Król Roger (1924) by the Polish composer Karol Szymanowski begins with the seductive and intoxicating aria of Roxana, the title character's wife. This aria full of repressed desires is one of the opera's most famous melodies. It is a key moment in the story of King Roger: an absolute technocratic and religious ruler who nevertheless comes to realise that human power is subordinate to natural forces.
The Polish director, playwright and librettist Krystian Lada sees parallels in this storyline with the current pandemic. Just as today, humankind is confronted with the limits of its unchecked ego and must recognise the supremacy of nature. For Lada, the future lies in a society that can find a balance between ego and eco. The voice of the soprano is a force of nature that awakens the consciousness of humankind - here a dancer.
As location, Lada chose Antwerp's Left Bank and the Noorderkasteel, an idyllic patch of nature on the outskirts of the city between the industrial port zone and the river Scheldt.
Polish composer Kasia Glowicka orchestrated Szymanowski's music, one of her great examples, for two wind instruments: flute and oboe. The musicians, the singer and the dancer are all linked by breathing, which here takes on a double meaning. On the one hand, breathing is a very natural vital action, but today it is also the carrier of a deadly virus.
Polish soprano Dagmara Dobrowolska from the acclaimed Opera Ballet Vlaanderen Chorus sings Szymanowski's ethereal melody. Dancer Aaron Shaw from the Opera Ballet Vlaanderen corps de ballet created the choreography himself. Oboist Arie van der Beek and flautist Melanie Roosken from the Opera Ballet Vlaanderen Symphony Orchestra complete the line-up.
Krystian Lada is a director, dramaturge, librettist and curator who is internationally active in opera, musical theatre and classical music. His projects bring a feminist and postcolonial perspective to the classical repertoire and focus on the development of new, intersectional platforms for exchange in multicultural communities. Lada is the first winner of the Mortier Next Generation Award (2019). From 2013 to 2016, he worked at De Munt as director of dramaturgy, empowerment and communication and as adjunct artistic director. As a dramaturge, Lada has collaborated with renowned directors and artists such as Pierre Audi, Ivo van Hove, Mariusz Treliński, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Tobias Kratzer, Yuval Sharon, Lydia Steier and Kirsten Dehlholm and with (opera) composers such as Nico Muhly, Annelies Van Parys, Andrzej Kwieciński and Katarzyna Głowicka. His productions have taken him to the Staatsoper in Berlin, Grand Théâtre de Genève, De Munt, the National Opera in Amsterdam and the Polish National Opera, to name a few. Today, Lada is also the artistic director of The Airport Society, a Brussels-based collective that develops projects at the crossroads of opera, activism and social engagement.
Just before the lockdown in Belgium, he was working at Opera Ballet Vlaanderen on Symphony of Expectation, which should have premiered on March 14, the day after all theatres were closed. This production has been postponed to a later date.