2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, bass, oboe, 3 clarinets, trumpet, trombone, violin and stereo fixed medium

Premiere: May 9, 1980, Concert, Salle du Maurier — Monument-National, Montréal (Québec)

The opera Kopernikus is not guided by an historical narrative, but rather an exploration of characters both real and fictitious as they interact, and as they react to and act upon the music. Seven singers and seven instrumentalists evolved alongside each other in this dream-like ritual centered around the female character Agni, who experiences visions of her mother, Lewis Carroll, Merlin, a witch, the Queen of the Night, a blind prophet, an old monk, Tristan and Isolde, Mozart, a forest keeper, and Copernicus.

Recent productions of Kopernikus often seem like a ballet for singers and musicians. As in dance productions, the spectator suspends his sense of reality to experience a universe that is part logical narrative, part chaotic explosion, in which music seems to speak as efficiently as the languages used by the singers. In the case of Kopernikus these are German, French, and Vivier’s invented language, which appears to have reached its height in this work. The result is a marriage of dark, enchanting, and captivating timbres, from which the vocal and instrumental characters that speak directly to the soul emerge, to guide listeners through the ritual.

Martine Rhéaume [viii-07]