Introduction

We’re delighted to present Passion - a new co-production with National Dance Company Wales of Pascal Dusapin’s highly acclaimed dance-opera, seen widely across Europe but never before in the UK.

This production, created in collaboration with fellow world-leading contemporary specialists London Sinfonietta and EXAUDI, will be performed in a newly commissioned English translation by Amanda Holden, extending our series of international works new to UK audiences, which include The Killing Flower by Salvatore Sciarrino and The Golden Dragon by Peter Eötvös.

In this searingly beautiful and sensuous work for voice and body, Dusapin explores the pain and passion of two lovers who are forced apart to separate worlds. Springing from the myth of Orpheus, it offers an intriguing contemporary take – she is the one who wants to be followed. Mixed with the haunting sounds of harpsichord and Arabic Oud, Dusapin’s gleaming, shifting score, performed by the London Sinfonietta, conveys a timeless world within which the movement of dancers and singers can play out their story of loss and desire.

THE STORY

A tragic accident leaves a woman dead from a snake-bite and her newly-wed husband alone and inconsolable. He wants her back and will do anything to make this happen, but she has gone to a new place. As she comes to terms with her new state of being, he reaches out for her, crossing unknown boundaries. Whilst both want to be reunited, she understands that she can never return and that the only way to be together again is for him to follow her. But this is impossible. As she resolves to accept her new existence, apart and deprived of everything she knew, he is left alone to contemplate his new state of being. Alone, alive and bereft, he seeks solace in music.

THE PRODUCTION

Passion is a dance-opera that explores the emotional crisis of two lovers, one living and the other whose life has been cruelly snatched away. It explores their sense of desire and loss and the passions evoked by their separation.

The story is extremely simple, presented in a non-linear way in broken episodes and abstracted movement.

There are two characters: Him and Her. She has died and He intends to retrieve Her or at least re-connect with Her. They both recall the moment of Her death in different ways and at different times, repeatedly. He has to come to terms with Her disappearance, whilst She has to recognise Her new state of being – in death.  

Some people might recognise this as the story of Orpheus and Euridice, but here it changes. In the ancient myth, Orpheus persuades the gods to let him bring his beloved back to life on one condition – that he should not look back at her. He fails of course, and spends the rest of his days singing about the pain of his loss. In the traditional telling of the story, everything happens to Orpheus – her death, his successful negotiation and then her second loss because of his actions. The impact of death on Euridice is never considered, and she has no choice in the attempted rescue. Passion takes her perspective and restores her voice.

In Passion, the lovers meet, but realising her new state of being, She understands that she cannot or will not return. She will never see the sunlight again and He is left alone. He strums the Oud in lamentation.

As a dance-opera, PASSION is performed by two singers and an ensemble of dancers. The movement of the dancers becomes an extension of the feelings and desires of the characters portrayed by the singers, and the singers express the emotions of the characters through their physicality and interaction with the dancers as much as they do through their voice. We are aiming to achieve a poetic unity between voice and body, movement and sound, music and emotion, where words alone can never be enough.

As Debussy said “music exists to express the inexpressible” and so too does dance, perhaps the most musical of performing arts and the physical embodiment of sound.

Production stories & insights


Recent Guildhall Graduate Gareth Mattey joined us to observe Passion in rehearsals - click here to read his response to his experience on the day, observing the creative process behind the production.

Reviews

TOUR DATES

  • ANVIL, BASINGSTOKE

    Thursday 11 October

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  • QEH, LONDON

    Saturday 13 October

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  • WALES MILLENNIUM CENTRE, CARDIFF

    Tuesday 23 October

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  • Snape Maltings, Suffolk

    Tuesday 30 October

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  • LOWRY, SALFORD

    Tuesday 6 November

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  • THEATR CLWYD, MOLD

    Saturday 10 November

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PRE-SHOW TALKS

Join us for a pre-show discussion offering some insights into the music and making of the production:

Anvil, Basingstoke

Venue: Forge, 6:30pm (30mins)
Led by Michael McCarthy, with Pascal Dusapin & Caroline Finn

QEH

Venue tbc, 6:30pm (30mins)
Led by Michael McCarthy, with Pascal Dusapin & Caroline Finn

WMC

Venue: Preseli Room, 6:30pm (30mins)
Led by Michael McCarthy and Caroline Finn

Lowry

Venue: Carol Nash Classroom, 7pm (30mins)
Led by Michael McCarthy

Theatr Clwyd

Venue: Sinema, 6:30pm (30mins)
Led by Michael McCarthy

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