Posted by Durand Salabert Eschig on 29 February 2016
This is the result of the encounter between the composer and conductor, Michel Tabachnik, and the writer Régis Debray. With the collaboration of the Opéra national de Lyon and its director Serge Dorny, this duo has delivered an opera entitled Benjamin, plunging us into the life of Walter Benjamin through dreams and reality. This opera echoes the philosopher’s artistic and cultural influences with great aesthetic diversity. The staging was entrusted to John Fulljames and the musical direction to contemporary music specialist Bernhard Kontarsky.
The Opéra de Lyon has commissioned an opera to two great personalities: Regis Debray, Che Guevara former comrade and adviser to President Mitterrand, is fundamentally questioning our society, and especially the role of communication. Famous conductor close to Pierre Boulez, Michel Tabachnik is a demanding composer. They meet here to discuss the personality of a fascinating man but subject to dispute. By the variety of viewing angles, the thought of Benjamin disturbs many ones. The great diversity of his work, his refusal to serve obediently many schools, earned him many disappointments. His life will be that of an exile before the coming into power of the Nazis transformed him to fugitive. The booklet of this opera offers some striking returns on Benjamin’s existence. His personality becomes denser as the hero becomes fragile in reality.
The opera is not a debate of ideas: he describes encounters, but ideas emerge from these conversations. This means that the show requires a keen sense of storytelling. A quality that John Fulljames has shown in his two previous productions with Lyon: « Von heute auf morgen » by Schoenberg and Hindemith « Sancta Susanna . This associate-director of the Royal Opera Covent Garden is surrounded by the team of recent Raskatov’s « Cœur de chien »: Michael Levine scenery, costumes Christina Cunningham, Video Finn Ross. Regular guest at the Opera de Lyon, Bernhard Kontarsky, specialist of today’s repertoire, will be conducting this world premiere.