Photo: Laurent Guizar
At the Opéra de Rennes, there is no fear of unusual works or partners or publics. And so tonight we could attend an interpretation of Xenakis’ Oresteïa by the Atelier XXème of the local conservatory, along with the Choeur Prolatio and the Maitrise de Bretagne, and the baritone Dyonisios Sourbis, conducted by Sylvain Blassel. Students from the university Rennes 2 were filming the event, and so we found ourselves among a young crowd of enthusiasts. They had every right to be excited: the work is fascinating. The story has come to us from antique Greece and is sung in ancient Greek. Its hero is Orest, who finds himself involved in a sequence of violence and vengeance: in order to avenge his father, whom his mother had killed to avenge their daughter whom he had sacrificed to the Gods, he kills his mother and her lover, then finds himself pursued by the Erinyes, furious spirits that we easily identify as the manifestations of feelings of guilt. Goddess Athena then steps in and, proclaiming a kind of justice, based on the state and its laws, transforms the Erinyes into the benevolent Eumenides. It’s a timeless story, this fight between the spirit of vengeance and the voice of reason. Timeless is also Xenakis’ music, with its rhythm-based dramaturgy, intellectual, yet archaic and exciting, and its Sprechgesang. The interpreters were quite up to the challenge. The Atelier XXème under Sylvain Blassel were nuanced and just, as were the choirs Prolatio and the Maitrise de Bretagne. Baritone Dionysios Sourbis amazed with his two long interventions, when he passed effortlessly from his usual range to the most impressive falsetto. Un unusual musical event, that left us refreshed and surprised. Bravi tutti!