- According to
- Johann Sebastian Bach
- Katie Mitchell
Extraits des cantates de Johann Sebastian Bach
Fourteen years after their last production at the Célestins (Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River, directed by Olivier Py), the Opéra de Lyon invites Katie Mitchell as part of its annual festival, whose theme this year is “Family Secrets”. This celebrated artist gives us a piece composed of extracts from some of Bach’s lesser-known cantatas – a magnificent reflection on death.
Four brothers and sisters come together around the family dinner table after their father’s death. A family secret is revealed in a letter. Caught between shock, sadness, anger, and strength, each individual has to face their own relationship to their childhood, to grief, and to death. Throughout his prolific career, Bach composed over 200 cantatas. However, he did not compose a single opera, something Katie Mitchell intends to remedy with Trauernacht (Funeral Night). The director uses a musical patchwork of these lesser-known cantatas as the basis for a play full of dramatic tension. The stage production plays on the characters’ behaviour, using movements measured to a fraction of an inch and gestures made with surgical precision to bring out the theatrical qualities of this ensemble. The Opéra de Lyon has invited Raphaël Pichon, the conductor who created this montage, to teach his piece to a young conductor and a company of young actors; a secular cantata for five singers and eleven instrumentalists, this funeral night reveals the many shades of emotion at play in Bach’s work, conveying the overwhelming doubt and great comfort that faith can bring.