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Opera

ANDREI: Requiem in eight scenes

Dimitra Trypani

95'

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Description

Andrei: Requiem in eight scenes, a new work by Dimitra Trypani comes on GNO TV. It is a singular, contemporary funeral liturgy for the great filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, an artist who rendered thoughts and feelings with images of unparalleled beauty and intellectual vigour. The libretto, written by Pantelis Boukalas, enters into discourse with the German text of the Lutheran Requiem Mass, and with fragments of dialogue drawn from the seven feature films made by the Russian artist.

Andrei is classified as a “sound performance” as, according to the composer Dimitra Trypani, it is sound –namely, text and music strictly interconnected through the score– that serves as the overarching narrative mode. Within Trypani’s composition, major roles are played by chromatic heterophonic and polyphonic structures, polystylistic approaches, and body percussion. Additionally, the incorporated polyglottal elements and dialogue snippets drawn from Tarkovsky’s films are inserted into the overall liturgical text by means of collage techniques.

Commissioned by the Greek National Opera, the work is articulated in eight parts: an introductory scene followed by another seven that correspond to the seven sections of the German Requiem Mass text and, moreover, to the seven feature films Tarkovsky made during the course of his short life.

Eighteen acclaimed actors, dancers, and musicians will perform an equal number of on-stage Andrei variants, real-life persons, or key imaginary characters drawn from his seven films. Iro Bezou, Irini Bilini-Moraiti, Valia Karagiorga, Yorgos Kasavetes, Marianna Kavallieratos, Dimitra Kokkinopoulou, Nandia Kontogeorgi, Hara Kotsali, Christina Maxouri, Yorgos Nikopoulos, Alexandros Psychramis, Kalliopi Simou, Fotis Siotas, Alice Siousti, Christos Thanos, Savina Yannatou, Fanis Zachopoulos, and Nikos Ziaziaris all articulate the work’s poetic, cinematic, and musical utterances, either as lone individuals or as a unified “choral” ensemble.

The composer Dimitra Trypani is engaged in the creation of interdisciplinary music performances, using strictly structured polyrhythmic forms and heterophonic patterns as her main media in her approach to both music and speech. She has worked with numerous renowned orchestras, ensembles, and soloists, both in Greece and beyond. She is an associate professor in Music Theory and Composition with Interdisciplinary Practices at the Ionian University’s Department of Music.

Recorded in the GNO Stavros Niarchos Hall at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center on 28 September 2022. Subtitles are available in Greek and English.

Trailer

Creative team – Cast

Concept, composition, music instruction, director, conductor Dimitra Trypani
Original libretto Pantelis Boukalas
Sets Elena Stavropoulou
Costumes Nikos Kokkalis
Lighting Valentina Tamiolaki
Choreography, movement Ermira Goro
Sound designer Kostas Bokos
TV Director, Editing Grigoris Panopoulos 


With (in alphabetical order)
Iro Bezou
Irini Bilini-Moraiti
Valia Karagiorga
Yorgos Kasavetes
Marianna Kavallieratos
Dimitra Kokkinopoulou
Nandia Kontogeorgi
Hara Kotsali
Christina Maxouri
Yorgos Nikopoulos
Alexandros Psychramis
Kalliopi Simou
Fotis Siotas
Alice Siousti
Christos Thanos
Savina Yannatou
Fanis Zachopoulos
Nikos Ziaziaris


Music ensemble
Phaedon Miliadis, Panagiotis Tziotis (violin)
Athina Giatra (viola)
Dimitris Travlos (cello)
Ilya Algaer (double bass)
Dimitris Kountouras (recorders)
Antonis Vassiliadis (percussion)
Gogo Xagara (harp)
Alexis Mastichiadis (continuo organ)

Director's note

“Andrei is a singular, person-specific requiem for the great filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky but, beyond this, it is also a requiem for any artist desperately seeking ‘sacred’ silence –an inner peace– amid the tumult inside their soul.

“For a number of years now, I have used sound, both textual and musical, to share certain thoughts I have about fundamental human concerns. The way in which I work is most specific. My practice is characterised by the incorporation of texts I am employing into an orchestrated matrix of strict form; this allows for the creation of a musical flow that includes a poetic style of narration, and for the two art forms to enter into seamless discourse. That is, it allows sound in its entirety –springing from the libretto and the music– to run out towards the spectator or listener like a rushing sonic river. Co-existent within this Andrei sonic river are a libretto by Pantelis Boukalas and the German text of the Lutheran Requiem Mass, as well as scattered fragments of scenes drawn from the seven films made by Tarkovsky.

“Parts of the text are approached metrically, strictly articulated in accordance with their form, and utterly collective as a kind of choral voicing, be it polyrhythmic or asymmetric – almost like a strange, alternative form of hip hop, and often accompanied by body percussion. Other parts have been set to music as classic, unalloyed polyphonic choral sections, and there are parts freely spoken as prose that slices through the silence, breaking the strict metrical form that otherwise permeates the work.

“On stage are eighteen Tarkovsky variants that closely parallel the lead characters –both male and female– that appear in his films, or else evoke a fragmented creative mind that gradually gathers and unifies into compound thought as the performance progresses. The words vocalised by the production’s eighteen exceptional performers –speech that is poetic, cinematic, musical, and overarchingly devotional– are personally uttered by each individual, or else ‘chorally’ expressed by everyone together.

“Andrei is neither concert nor opera nor work of theatre. It is a ceremonial ‘sound performance’ – one you can choose to experience with your eyes open or closed.”

Dimitra Trypani

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Reviews

Appetite for visions

Indeed, even in difficult times, the Greek National Opera has purposefully developed musical culture. It has made the best use of its resources and proved its indispensability. This is also confirmed by the composer Dimitra Trypani. With its two stages, the National Opera has given new impulses to musical life in Greece. "This house has everything a world-class stage should have." Five years earlier, the Greek National Opera had been considered a place for the ordinary repertoire with the ordinary works: for a "certain elite". Now, five years later, the National Opera is no longer a "place of introversion" but a "place of extraversion". "You see a lot more young people coming to the opera. Five years ago that was not the case. It has to do with the programming and the fact that you can enjoy a great complex of buildings before and after the performance."

The opening of the current season saw the premiere of a commissioned work by Trypani: Andrei. Behind it is a "Requiem in eight scenes" in memory of Andrei Tarkovsky. The Russian-Soviet filmmaker, who died in 1986, would have celebrated his 90th birthday in 2022. In her sound performance, Trypani simultaneously directed and conducted the 19-member ensemble of music, singing, dancing and acting soloists. They portray Andrei variants or imaginary key figures from Tarkovsky's seven films. The libretto by Pantelis Boukalas combines German texts from the Lutheran Requiem Mass and dialogue fragments from Tarkovsky's films. The result is an interdisciplinary musical performance with strictly structured polyrhythms, body percussion and quasi-minimalist patterns. In general, the Greek National Opera has experimented and broken open a lot since 2017: at the "Alternative Stage" also concretely with the space including the different positions of the audience or the podium.

Marco Frei, Das Orchester

A ceremonial "sound performance"

The dominant idiom of the score is muscular tonaliry, densely packed and layered, though at moments the harmonies take on the amorphous glow of Ligeti. It makes arresting use of the sounds of inhalation and exhalation and there are passages of chanted speech. A salient feature is a strong rhythmic drive: in the Nostalghia section (which quotes Latin liturgy) there aresubtle suggestions of the syncopations of Latin dance, and moststriking of all is theintermittent use of tightly marshalled body percussion-signalled by the energetic composer as she conducted from the shallow pit to one side of the stage. Such was the discipline and immediacy of the performance that it was astonishing to discover that only some of the participants were classically trained professional singers­ others were actors, dancers, directors, instrumentalists and composers. (Rehearsals, it seems, had been going on for more than six months.) Dressed in uniform grey robes by Nikos Kokkalis and choreographed by Ermira Goro, they grouped and regrouped around the neutral-coloured, tiered set, with itsslab-like ramps (design was by Elena Stavropoulou, lighting by Valentina Tamiolaki). There were, however, no filmic elements. As Trypani asserted, 'Andrei is neither concert nor opera nor work of theatre. It is a ceremonial "sound performance"-one you can choose to experience with your eyes open or closed.' While the music, growing from a text steeped in Tarkovsky's aesthetic, sustained dramatic tension and offered surprising diversity within its distinctive soundworld, it seemed almost wilful not to reference the film-maker's extraordinary visual imagination. The scenic possibilities-not least in a state-of-the-art theatre like STAVROS NIARCH0S HALL-could be endless.

Yehuda Shapiro, Opera

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