House Of The Sleeping Beauties
After the success of The Women Who Walked into Doors (2001), the composer Kris Defoort and the producer Guy Cassiers have realised their second opera House of The Sleeping Beauties (2009).
Its starting point is the novel by the Japanese author and Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972) House of the Sleeping Beauties (1961). The novel tells the story of old Eguchi in a strange and tender brothel, where elderly men can spend the night and snuggle up against the warm bodies of very young girls drugged by sleeping pills. It is the story of farewell, old age and death.
Kris Defoort transformed this monologue into a musical composition containing several voices. While a chorus of four female voices (The Sleeping Beauties) is describing the bodies of the young sleeping girls, a soprano (The Women) sings what the old man does and thinks. The role of the old man is sung by a baritone (Old Man): he expresses his first impressions of the young girls and how they evoke memories of women from his past. Thus, the bedroom becomes a space for the singing, a space for lyricism.
Every time the old man visits the brothel, before entering the bedroom, he starts a conversation with the madam. These down-to-earth dialogues on everyday events are performed by an actress (Madam) and an actor (Old Man). Inside and outside, sung and spoken: two melancholic worlds, quite different in colour, intensity and emotions.
(c) Kurt Van der Elst
Marianne Van Kerkhoven
(based on the book of the same name by Yasunari Kawabata)
LOD, Toneelhuis, La Monnaie / De Munt
Opera in three Nights
World Premiere May 8th 2009 at the Théatre Royal de la Monnaie/ De Munt, Brussels
Barbara Hannigan (soprano)
Omar Ebrahim (baritone)
Asko I Schönberg A'dam
piano improvisations by Kris Defoort