Pascal Dusapin -

Pascal Dusapin - "Penthesilea"

To celebrate his 60th birthday this year, Pascal Dusapin gave us a triumphant opera Penthesilea, premiered in March 2015 at the Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie, under the baton of Franck Ollu, with staging by Pierre Audi. This fall the co-commissioner, Opéra du Rhin will present the French premiere in Strasbourg on September 26, 2015.

On 26 and 27 November 2020 at 6:30pm, a concert version will be premiered at the Philharmonie de Paris by the Orchestre de Paris and the Chœur de chambre Accentus under the direction of Ariane Matiakh.

Penthesilea, the proud queen of the Amazons!

Pascal Dusapin based his opera on the play by Heinrich von Kleist who took the story from Greek mythology. After killing her sister Hippolyta while hunting, Penthesilea joinedTrojan War with the hope that she would die in battle. In Kleist's version, a complex and deadly game of love and hate, attraction and repulsion, Penthesilea kills Achilles: a moment of tragic madness, when she tears him apart with her teeth.

Pascal Dusapin’s Penthesilea is his seventh opera. The message of the work seems to be taken from a quote from Christa Wolf that he includes in his score: ‘Thus begins the modern era and it is not beautiful.’

“ …a formidable, hard-to-classify figure who has drawn on both the convulsive avant-gardism of Iannis Xenakis and the brooding late Romanticism of Sibelius."

 “Dusapin approaches the material with admirable restraint; the tone of the opera, which unfolds in an unbroken ninety minutes, is grave and meditative, with chant like lines rising over extended drones and impressionistic washes of timbre. It begins with a lonely modal melody for harp, which is gradually blotted out by a spreading smear of sound in the lower strings and brass. An array of antique instruments—a cimbalom, a type of hammered dulcimer; a sistrum, or sacred Egyptian rattle; various drums and gongs—provide an archaic sonic patina. Although Dusapin occasionally unleashes a Dionysian frenzy in the full orchestra, for the most part the musical action proceeds at a ritual distance. It is a masterly work...”

Alex Ross dans The New-Yorker, 27 April 2015


Reviews of 'Penthesilea'

"Pascal Dusapin returns with an amazing opera!"
Magazine Opera

"A wonderful return from the master."
L'Official Art. 

Read the full review

Look at the score

Listen to a short extract

Listen the recording released on 2019 by Cyprès recording : 



Pascal Dusapin - "Penthesilea" (concert version)
26 and 27 November 2020 - 
Digital broadcast
Philharmonie de Paris
Orchestre de Paris
Chœur de chambre Accentus
Georg Nigl, Achilles
Christel Loetzsch, Penthesilea
Marisol Montalvo, Prothoe
Davone Tynes, Odyssus
Noa Frenkel, Oberpriesterin
Thierry Coduys, electroacoustic device
Richard Wilbeforce, choir conductor
Ariane Matiakh, conductor

More information...





Pascal Dusapin - Penthesilea (extracts)