Hèctor Parra -

Hèctor Parra - "Justice" reviews

A major event on the international opera scene, Justice by Hèctor Parra, directed by Milo Rau to a libretto by Fiston Mwanza Mujila, has been showered with international critical acclaim, giving modern opera its letters of nobility, resolutely in tune with the issues of our time! Premiered on 22 January at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, it will be revived in the spring at the Festival Tangente St Polten.


DEUTSCHLANDRADIO (23.01.2024) : “Opera has never been so radically decolonized” 

Manuel Krug, Die Welt (28.01.2024) : "Pàrra, who otherwise creates much more complex soundscapes, gives the solo guitarist sitting on the left room for his interjections, has orientated himself on percussion-dominated Congolese rhythms and chants, interweaving them in a simple way with his tonal language. It is only rarely loud, skilfully integrating the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the opera choir. For the most part, the music dallies along in an astonishingly harmonious chirp to keep the narrative tempo flowing."

Marco Frei, Neue Zürcher Zeitung (25.01.2024) : "The five acts, each with five scenes, look deep into the abysses of the human condition. For Parra himself, the new opera is a logical continuation of his "Wohlgesinnten", which premiered in Antwerp in 2019 and is based on the novel of the same name by Jonathan Littell, who created the fictional memoirs of a German Nazi (...) In "Justice", Parra does not string together folkloristic African clichés, but rather integrates rhythmic, melodic and vocal associations into his very own expression, always very organically and naturally. Even the subtly present songs from the region, which are also reflected in Kojack Kossakamvwe's electric guitar solos, are integrated into a music that does not merely illustrate the events, but creates its own narrative level with plenty of lyricism, complex string soundscapes and dramatic power."

Egbert Tholl, Sueddeutsche Zeitung (24.01.2024) : "The music alone is astonishing. Parra is at home in the world of IRCAM, the Parisian avant-garde music institute, he was represented at the Munich Music Theatre Biennale and set libretti by Händl Klaus to music. Now he travelled to the Congo, researching the music there, especially that of the Luba - once the people of a proud kingdom. The journey changed his music: the melodies become livelier than we are used to from him, the music is given a constantly exciting pulse, a drive, is immediately comprehensible, some of the arias almost seem like songs. And yet what Parra composes is not cultural appropriation, but : a Tribute."

Pierre Rigaudière, Avant-Scène Opéra (22.01.2024) : "Projected by Milo Rau into the realm of committed, even militant art, Hèctor Parra's Justice is a singular opera that may well set a historic precedent on the opera scene (...) Hèctor Parra has developed a dense orchestral texture, the compactness of which is one of his trademarks, as well as a sustained lyricism. Although he has incorporated several musical elements borrowed from the region's music, particularly songs, he is to be thanked for strictly avoiding any veneer of local colour. It is thanks to this deep immersion that he has been able to make his writing permeable to interiorised material. His vocal writing is nonetheless perplexing, as it seems to be polarised by two clearly differentiated styles, one characterised by the expressionist tension of an atonality that is sometimes a little systematic and nourished by large intervals, functioning dramaturgically like a recitative even though it lacks the prosodic fluidity, the other associated with arias, tending towards more consonance and more flexible melodic profiles. Each character is given at least one aria that highlights his or her experiences."

Georgina Sola, El Pais (07.02.2024) : "With Justice, Parra honours political opera, the best antidote to the blindness of ideology, the Manichaeism and totalitarianism of the cult of productivity, extractivism and the crude disregard for human lives. Opera, in his hands, is the most suitable medium to aspire to the maximum of justice: the more savage the pain, the more atavistic and unbearable, the more lyrical the expression. The more rage, the more indignation, the more vibrant the voices."