Opera ballet

Krystian Lada conducts ROXANA’S SONG for Opera Ballet Vlaanderen

Roxana’s Song is the fourth creation that Opera Ballet Vlaanderen presents as part of the Imagination is Alive campaign. Krystian Lada was partly inspired by the opera Król Roger, in which the confrontation between man and nature is a central theme. Composer Kasia Glowicka wrote a new orchestration for the music. The video is online and you can watch it here.

The second act of Polish composer Karol Szymanowski’s opera Król Roger (1924) begins with the seductive and intoxicating aria of Roxana, the main character’s wife. This aria full of suppressed desires is one of the most famous melodies in opera. It’s a key moment in the story of King Roger: an absolute technocratic and religious ruler who nevertheless comes to realize that human power is subordinate to natural forces.

Polish director, playwright and librettist Krystian Lada sees parallels in this story with the current pandemic. Just like today, humanity is confronted with the limits of its uncontrolled ego and must recognize the supremacy of nature. For Lada, the future lies in a society able to find a balance between ego and eco. The soprano’s voice is a force of nature that awakens the consciousness of humanity – here a dancer.

As a location, Lada chose the left bank of Antwerp and the Noorderkasteel, an idyllic corner of nature on the outskirts of the city between the industrial port area and the Scheldt.

Polish composer Kasia Glowicka orchestrated the music of Szymanowski, one of her great examples, for two wind instruments: flute and oboe. The musicians, the singer and the dancer are all linked by a breath that takes on a double meaning here. On the one hand, breathing is a very natural vital action, but today it also carries a deadly virus.

Polish soprano Dagmara Dobrowolska from the famous Opera Ballet Vlaanderen Chorus sings Szymanowski’s ethereal melody. Dancer Aaron Shaw from Opera Ballet Vlaanderen’s 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 programme.

Krystian Lada is a director, playwright, librettist and curator who is internationally active in opera, musical theater and classical music. Her projects bring a feminist and postcolonial perspective to classical repertoire and focus on developing 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 deputy artistic director. As a playwright, 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 composers (of opera ) such as Nico Muhly, Annelies Van Parys, Andrzej Kwieciński and Katarzyna Głowicka. His productions have taken him to the Staatsoper Berlin, Grand Théâtre de Genève, De Munt, National Opera Amsterdam and Polish National Opera, to name but a few. Today, Lada is also artistic director of The Airport Society, a Brussels collective that develops projects at the crossroads of opera, activism and social commitment.

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 theaters closed. This production has been postponed to a later date.