Guus Janssen

Guus Janssen: Noach (An Opera from Genesis)

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This recording, a document of a radio performance over two days in 1994, just days after its premier is a singular work in five acts, that combines the best of new music composition, storytelling, cultural critique, and though you can only see it in one of the packages three handsome booklets, devastatingly original visual art. This is the second collaboration between Janssen and Haverkamp, their first, Faust Licht, was a success as well, but doesn't touch this for vision. Janssen and Havercamp have created an opera in which Noah, God's chosen becomes the very things this same God sought to destroy in the first place. Noah becomes a god in his own image because he begins to see in the animals, in the face of his wife and in the survival of the planet, a domain he can rule, can dominate, and judge. Noah's wife, who has no lines in the biblical account, becomes the critic, the antagonist, and the very antithesis of whom he is, though she recognizes her powerlessness in the face of his madness, offering a biting critique of patriarchy. Also, present are the voices of the animals, which are executed by the method of overtone singing (also known as throat singing). They too, question the God, Noah, and the environment in which they are expected to exist in as the Ark makes its journey. Janssen's music creates specific tonalities for everyone, from the narrator to Noah to the animals and God. The voice of Noah's wife has various tonalities and is signified always with a short prelude. The Nieuw Arts Orchestra and the Mondrian Quartet are stunning under the conduction of Lucas Vis, and the singers, under the direction of Pierre Audi are no less than stunning. Despite the fact that this is a thoroughly post modern opera in the same way that Berg's Lulu was a modern one, it offers new dimensions in dramatic and theatrical music as well as a new, and dynamic framework for musical narrative that offers no compromises either to European classical music or to the avant-anyone interested in the development of new music and/or the opera and how they both reinterpret the past in order to socially and culturally inform the present and the future. Brilliant and devastating.

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