A musical investigation into the dynamics of a virus

For this edition of OFF, the Flemish director Gregory Caers, together with students of the MBO Theaterschool Rotterdam, has created the video clip HCoV-NL63, inspired by the sounds of Henry Purcell’s ‘Cold Song’. In this online performance from various perspectives about the spread of a virus, the subject that has held us all in its grip for more than a year is approached from a new angle.

In HCoV-NL63 Gregory Caers, together with the students of the MBO Theaterschool Rotterdam, investigates the dynamics of a virus. It is a performance about the way a virus spreads, moves and transfers to others, but also about the rules that are established to contain the virus, and the consequences of these restrictions.

The title of the work refers to a coronavirus that was discovered in 2004 in a seven-month-old child in the Netherlands. Less dangerous and far-reaching than SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that is gripping the world right now, but the of spread and contagion are still the same.

Gregory Caers
Gregory Caers has become a familiar face at the Opera Forward Festival. He has developed his own language, with which he gives a physical answer to opera and which he prefers young people to speak. About his working method, he says: “I always try to develop an energy that gets under the skin of the audience and creates something at that moment, and in the biggest possible way.” Now he faces a new challenge: creating a work that does exactly that, but online.

Cold Song
Bas Gaakeer arranged ‘Cold Song’ from Henry Purcell’s King Arthur (1691) especially for HCoV-NL63. In the third act of King Arthur, ‘the Cold Genius’, the spirit of winter, is awakened from his sleep against his will. Accompanied by trembling strings, the Cold Genius awakens with a vocal line full of expressive jolts and thumps. The text is by poet and playwright John Dryden, who was proclaimed the first Poet Laureate in 1668.

Making off
During OFF Night #2 Gregory Caers and his student team present the making off of HCoV-NL63 directly after the broadcast of the performance.

Watch the festival trailer:

Team & cast