Saturday, March 26, 2016

De Materie at the Park Ave Armory

I saw De Materie at the Park Avenue Armory Thursday.  It was fascinating.  It is a Symphony / Opera  / Art as a reflection on the composition of "matter" both from a scientific and sociological viewpoint.  Much was in Dutch, and not "songs" but the founding documents of the country, the instructions on how to build a boat and a 16th century paper on atoms.
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But it was also extremely visual - intertwined with the music which was a little (and therefore not too) Philip Glass.
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Here are the amazing visuals...
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1
This is the first movement. The singers on the left sang first the Dutch equivalent of the Declaration of Independence (from Spain), then instructions on shipbuilding.  The translations were scrolled on the left most building.  Then soloist on the upper right sang the paper on atoms from the 16th century.  Translations were scrolled on the zeppelin on the right as shown.
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2
In the second movement this woman (an amazing soprano) opened a sack and sung (I had to look this up) the "Seventh Vision of Hadewych, a 13th century mystic poetess, and is a remarkable mixture of religious mysticism and eroticism."  While she sang that, and translations were scrolled on a screen at front, the sack people flopped, slowly, around.
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The swinging colored pendulums.

3
In the third movement, the giant pendulums swing for a while before two swing dancers came out and danced.  About 15 other dancers would race on and off during this as well.

4
In the fourth movement 120 sheep were shepherded around the stage by music and a zeppelin.  It was oddly moving.

Finish (coda?)
The wrap up, with very little music, was Madame Currie's speech accepting the Nobel prize, interspersed with passages from her dairy about her husband (after his death).  This was in English.

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