Kaija Saariaho "L`Amour de Loin" (opera in five acts)

Credits  
Music by Kaija Saariaho
Yaroslavia Kalesidis, Stage Director
Performed in French
World premiere: Premiered at the Ural Opera Ballet (Ekaterinburg)
Premiere of this production: 19 Mar 2021

The performance has 1 intermission
Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Libretto by Amin Maaluf

Conductor: Konstantin Chudovskiy
Chorus Master: Anzhelika Grozina
Stage Director: Yaroslava Samorokova
Set Designer: Evgenii Vinogradov
Lighting Designer: Evgenii Vinogradov
Movement Director: Konstantin Khlebnikov

"L`Amour de Loin" is a variation on a popular medieval legend. The hero of the opera, Jofre Rudel, was a real historical character, although it is not known for certain whether he traveled to Libya to meet his beloved. Jofre is considered one of the first Provencal troubadours - poets and performers of songs dedicated to the ideal and distant Lady.

The lyrics of the troubadours, according to the researcher, "is not focused on achieving a goal, but on an experience that alone can bring the highest joy to a lover." This is exactly what can be said about the opera and its listener. "L`Amour de Loin" does not involve action as such, dramatic clashes and unexpected turns of events. This is an opera of expectation, an opera of slow time. One state and one thought unwind to infinity. There are only three characters on the stage, and the Mediterranean Sea, which separates the lovers, becomes the fourth and main one - it floods the stage in powerful orchestral interludes with a choir singing without words.

Man and elements, East and West, impossible love and death - librettist Amin Maalouf and composer Kaya Saariaho touched at once all the main themes that the opera house had been developing for four hundred previous years. "L`Amour de Loin" was first performed in 2000, since then it has gone through a dozen productions, its Russian premiere took place on the stage of the Ural Opera.

Synopsis

XII century. Aquitaine, the Mediterranean and Tripoli

Geoffre Rudel de Blaye is tired of a life of luxury and entertainment, in his poems he sings of "distant love." Former friends mock him. The pilgrim, who has arrived from across the sea, tells him about a beautiful lady living in the East, and from now on Jofre thinks only of her.

Returning to the East, the pilgrim meets with Clemence, Countess of Tripoli, and tells her that in the West a certain troubadour praises her in his songs, calling her "distant love." The countess is offended, but then her anger is replaced by dreams of a strange lover. She wonders if she is worthy of such devotion.

Once again in Aquitaine, the pilgrim confesses to Zhofre that the distant beautiful lady knows that Zhofre sings about her. The troubadour is determined to face her. The countess prefers not to meet him: she does not want to suffer and live in anticipation.

Jofre sets sail and waits for the hour when he first sees his beloved, but he is also afraid of a future meeting. His anxiety is so great that he falls ill, and the closer he gets to Tripoli, the worse he gets.

Pilgrim informs Clemence that Jofre Rudel has arrived at her court, but he is dying and wants to see her. The unconscious troubadour is brought in on a stretcher. In the presence of the countess, he comes to his senses. They confess their mutual passion and swear eternal love. Jofre dies in Clemence's arms.


Main Stage 1 Teatralnaya ploschad (1 Theatre Square), Moscow, Russia
New Stage Bol'shaya Dmitrovka Street, 4/2, Moscow, Russia
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