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"Opera is unlike anything else"
How did you take up the adaptation of such a monumental piece as The Magic Flute by Mozart?
For the first project based on The Magic Flute that we developed during an enoa Lab (La (petite) Flûte enchantée), the dramaturge Sophie van der Stegen made the choices of what numbers from the original opera the show would have. I came a little bit later in the creation process, first as a sound designer. For the new show, Il était une fois... La Flûte enchantée, we discussed again this and I made the cuts, the final choices and the musical direction.
The show includes works you have composed for it, how do they enter in dialogue with Mozart’s piece?
The integration of new music was natural as an idea. To be a complete new thing and to be among Mozart's great music, I must confess that it was neither automatic nor easy. In this show it enters into dialogue naturally because we are telling two stories in one opera. We created the story of four friends who are playing in an attic and discover the score of The Magic Flute as they enter playfully in the magical world of Mozart. One of these friends plays various roles that the others do not want to embody like the Queen of the Night and Sarastro. The interpretation of these characters are the product of his imagination, there is where the new music comes. The new pieces also create bridges between the main story and the story of The Magic Flute and help to create a soundscape, in the form of electronic music, that participates to the magic of this production based on Mozart’s opera.
Is it your first music theatre project for children? Do you take into consideration the age of the audience when you start composing? Why?
It wasn’t my first project for children or my first children's theatre music project, but it was the first one where I had to confront and integrate my music into an opera from another composer. The age of the audience has no influence on my compositions. Children are completely open without any kind of filters or preconceptions. They are authentic sponges that absorb everything that is offered to them. But they are also the most genuine and demanding public. If they love it you can see it, they show it; but you can feel immediately if they do not like it. I wrote the new music in my own language but making clear connections to the original opera to build a bridge. The new music was very well accepted by the children who saw the show.
How is it different from your compositions for orchestra or chamber music?
The opera itself is unlike anything else.
Whenever you have a text to work on that is part of a narrative that has to be represented musically and visually on stage, it makes everything different from when you are writing for orchestral or chamber music.
As a composer I do not have control on everything and I’m not the only one to make decisions. There is constant sharing with the other members of the creative team. It is more complex and difficult, but it also turns out to be more pleasurable. It cuts off, a little, with the solitude inherent in the act of composing, inherent in the condition of being a composer.