[Herald Review] Phantasmagoric staging of Haydn’s ‘Creation’ pleases eyes, ears


Spanish theater troupe La Fura dels Baus’ innovative production of Haydn’s oratorio “The Creation,” which ran at Art Center Incheon on Friday and Saturday, was a feast for the eyes and ears.

The iconic oratorio work from 1798 depicts the Biblical story of creation. While the original composition, intended for a religious presentation, does not include interactions between characters, the experimental theater troupe adapted the work by adding visual art installations.

Friday’s production highlighted the soloists’ talents, with soprano Im Sun-hae, bass-baritone Thomas Tatzl and tenor Robin Tritschler taking the roles of three archangels, Uriel, Gabriel and Raphael, respectively.

They sang unwavering while being lifted into the air by a crane and submerged to their necks in a water tank. Even after coming out of the water, they continued singing with out-of-this-world voices while drying their hair with a towel.

As the three soloists had performed in the same production staged at other venues, they fantastically portrayed the three angels. The costumes, attached with countless lightbulbs from head to toe, also contributed to a heavenly atmosphere.


A photograph of Korean independence activist Yu Gwan-sun is projected on a screen during Friday’s performance of Haydn’s oratorio “The Creation,” staged by Spanish theater troupe La Fura dels Baus, at Art Center Incheon. (Art Center Incheon)

Depicting the sixth day of the Biblical story of creation, a picture of Korean independence activist Yu Gwan-sun was projected on a screen. According to the organizers, it was artistic director Carlus Padrissa’s idea to use the image to commemorate the anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement on Friday.

The performance crossed the boundaries of a musical, blurring the line between the stage and the audience.

During the performance, the chorus, holding helium-filled balloons, proceeded to stand between theater seats to sing. With sounds coming from all directions, the audience felt as if they were fully immersed in music.

Using digital technologies, the production team overcame the boundaries of stage performances. For example, projectors and tablet PCs were used to create a celestial atmosphere onstage.

Making a collage with tablet PCs, the choristers created an image of fire. Shivering, they sat in front of the fire and enjoyed the warmth.

For the finale, the choristers formed a line in front of the stage and held up their tablet PCs. Combined, the small screens read, “Your thirst for life is infinite.”

Still, the performance had shortcomings.

In the absence of an orchestra pit, the orchestra had to perform at the far end of the stage, making it hard to observe the musicians. In some scenes, some choristers also appeared disorderly in their movements.

According to the organizers, Camerata Antiqua Seoul had rehearsed with the Spain-based directors for more than a week, but the performance on Friday showed there might not have been enough time.

La Fura dels Baus’ production of “The Creation” offers a spectacular visual presentation that takes full advantage of the latest digital technologies. Indeed, the innovative theater troupe appears to have found the answer to how visual arts can be added to a classical music production while preserving the musicality of the original work.

That being said, the production is a visual adaptation of an oratorio — a musical composition designed to be made into a concert work — and Friday’s staging revealed loose ends and awkward pauses in the adaptation.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)

Source : KoreaHerald

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