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Like Flesh

Sivan Eldar

Opera Sivan Eldar
Libretto Cordelia Lynn

Duration 90 minutes approx.
Language English

Commissioned by :
Opéra de Lille, Opéra Orchestre national de Montpellier, Opéra national de Lorraine Production Opéra de Lille
Coproduction Opéra Orchestre national de Montpellier, Opéra national de Lorraine, Opera Ballet Vlaanderen (Anvers), Ircam-Centre Pompidou
In collaboration avec Le Balcon
Supported by enoa the Europe créative de l’Union Européenne programme and Camargo Foundation.
Scores published by Éditions Durand / Universal Music Classical

‘We can tell how light and water loved
And from their longing grew a tree…’

Suffering in an unhappy marriage, Woman yearns for a world beyond the boundaries of flesh and an existence outside of the conventions of human society. A secret young Lover’s desire instigates an explosive metamorphosis, and Woman finds perfect release as a tree. But the world is a dark place for trees as well as humans, and deep in the forest, the Lover and a Forester lay claim to a body of wood and leaf, one for money and one for love.
Inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Like flesh draws on modern environmental science to create a radical and passionate new myth about our broken relationship with an environment in crisis.

Like flesh is written in a series of short scenes, building in intensity towards an ambiguous and violent conclusion. The narrative is divided by poetic choral monologues reflecting the Ancient Greek theatre chorus in keeping with the myths at the opera’s heart. The monologues tell tales of metamorphosis and nature, recounting both stories of creation and stories of human kind’s dependent and destructive relationship with its environment, creating a rich metaphorical world for the soloists to inhabit. The three main characters, the Lover (soprano), the Tree (contralto) and the Forester (bass), are mirrored by two dancer-actors and an instrumentalist, subverting traditional representations of character.
Ovid’s Metamorphoses are tales of passion in extremis, passion so great that the human possessed by it bursts into another form, transcending from the natural into the supernatural. At the heart of many of these myths is a violence in passion, from male to female, and the metamorphosis offers an escape from lust and a climactic but tragic preservation of chastity. But what might these stories offer us if they don’t end on their expected climax?
Drawing from ecological relationship models, Like flesh reimagines what relationships could be in our world – a world that is still resistant to multiplicities of expression. Using gender-ambiguous text, Like flesh also explores a subtler spectrum of sexual identity, bringing the operatic love story to a contemporary, curious and queerer generation.

New chamber opera by Sivan Eldar
Libretto Cordelia Lynn
Computer-Music Design Augustin Muller

Musical direction Maxime Pascal
Staging and scenography Silvia Costa
IA video creation Francesco D’Abbraccio
Costumes Laura Dondoli
Lighting Andrea Sanson
Assistant scenography Alessio Valmori
Sound projection Florent Derex
Singing coach Alain Muller

Woman, Tree Helena Rasker, alto
Forester, her husband William Dazeley, baryton
The Student Juliette Allen, soprano
The Forest (6 soloist voices) Adèle Carlier, Hélène Fauchère, Guilhem Terrail, Sean Clayton, René Ramos Premier, Florent Baffi
Ensemble Le Balcon (13 musicians : flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, percussions x 2, accordion, violin x 2, viola, cello, doublebass, keyboards/piano)
and electronics

Opéra de Lille
Rehearsals / Setup from December 6, 2021 to January 18, 2022
Dress Rehearsal January 19, 2022
Performances (x5) on January 21, 2022 (Opening Night – World Première)
then january 23, 25, 27 and 28, 2022

Opéra Orchestre national Montpellier
Setup, from February 1, 2022.
Rehearsals with orchestra start February 6, 2022.
Performances (x3) between February 11 and 17, 2022. (dates to be specified)

Opéra national de Lorraine
Setup from September 12, 2022
Rehearsals, waiting for schedule.
Performances (x3) on September 30, October 2 and 4, 2022.