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An Ubiquitous Opera

Like the radar that still transmits from the military tracking station set up by the British Army during the Cold War, a virtual life pulse, like a soul wave, continues to transmit from Saint Kilda, uniting the human memory of the island to the rest of the world.

Stories about the Saint Kildans praise the solidarity of individual fates. They were organically linked to one another, braided like their hemp cords used for climbing up in the vertiginous island cliffs in a group. For this society, the hemp cord constituted one of their most precious treasures in the reality of there everyday life where there was neither the wheel nor the mirror. Their individual faces and fates merged in unison in the two Saint Kildan Parliaments, masculine and feminine, where decisions were taken by consensus, similar to the Scandinavian "Tings".

The Opera with the title "Island of the Bird-Men" is born out of this human impulse. It develops from the music, the movements, the language. Respecting the inspiration and the rules of that archaic culture it nonetheless avails itself of modern cultural communication methods.

For the performances the historical caretaker of the 1940s retuns to St. Kilda with a film crew and meets the remainders of that civilisation together with a Muse, a Gaelic singer, who sings magic into the place. These images will be transmitted by satellite and enriched by film of St. Kildan life played by an ensemble of Gaelic-speaking actors. The extreme dancers of Retouramont present a vertical choreography inspired by the life of the "Bird-Men".

All these images and sounds, mixed with what nature has to offer us, will be transmitted from Saint Kilda by satellite (or High-definition Internet) towards the mainland and the various performance sites on the European continent. There they will combine with choral and instrumental groups which will underline, comment upon or amplify their variegated significance.

The theatrical actions combined with the images received on projection screens in each performance site will make up the whole work; An ubiquitous opera.

We will concentrate on the biblical simplicity of the story: the simple but utopian life of an ur-society against the way the existence of the world forced itself upon them, the way they were forced to leave, the final exodus. A troubling and even archetypal parallel.

Sound techniques will allow us to underline the entire musical work using very (or not at all) sophisticated sounds: The wind, the sea in all its states, large sea-birds, and the native language. In short, we will be using the entire background of this extraordinary humanity to nourish our inspiration; the sense of greatness, eternity, the paradox of the smallness of the islands, the closed horizon and the immensity of this part of the Atlantic Ocean and its mystery.

The Gaelic language is, of course, another influence.

The musical impulse on St. Kilda comes from ancient Gaelic songs of work and entertainment. The intensity of the songs defines the "answers" from the mainland and the continent.

The music is written in such a way as to make possible and facilitate the synchronization and harmonization of the different musical sources. The sound waves coming from Saint Kilda merge and combine with other sources.

promoted by:


Federal State Government of NRW, Germany
City of Duesseldorf
Kunst- und Kulturstiftung of the Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf Kunststiftung NRW
Fonds Darstellende Künste e.V.
Stiftung Van Meeteren
Vysoká škola
múzických umení