OFFSpring: In proximity
An encounter between two muscial worlds
Encounter is the central concept of the music theatre film In Proximity, created by a new generation of theatre makers. Verdi’s opera Aida forms the starting point for a meeting of two musical worlds, that of the Afro-Surinam music group Black Harmony and the Chorus of Dutch National Opera.
The young artistic team, which was asked to draw inspiration from Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida (1871) and the city district of Amsterdam-Zuidoost, took the context in which the opera was created as a starting point. They noticed especially the underlying imperialist discourse in which Giuseppe Verdi composed the work. He wrote his opera, about an Ethiopian princess in Egyptian captivity, for the opera house of Cairo, without ever even setting foot in Egypt himself. The Egypt he paints in his work does not go beyond a typical oriental fantasy.
The artistic team of this fourth OFFspring production wanted to do things differently. From a deep awareness of structural inequality, they decided, throughout the artistic process, to relate to Amsterdam-Zuidoost in a radically different way than Verdi had done to Egypt. They sought to set up encounters with artists from the city district, not just as a source of inspiration to feed their work, but also as voices and co-creators of a new, joint project.
Filmed in the scenic workshop
In Proximity was filmed in the Scenic Workshop of Dutch National Opera & Ballet in Amsterdam-Zuidoost, a place where new stories are built and old stories are stored in wooden crates. In proximity to the past and to the rhythm of poetry by city poet Gershwin Bonevacia, the two choirs, coming from widely different traditions, embark on a musical journey towards each other. Their central question: how can you form a collective while still maintaining your own voice?
The most difficult thing, it seems to me, is to be daring to mean something new…’ (A world without people, Gershwin Bonevacia).
OFFspring is a series of special productions by young theatre makers and artists who have participated in previous editions of our Opera Forward Festival. For their projects, the different creative teams engage in a dialogue with the major opera titles that Dutch Nationale Opera had originally programmed this autumn, as well as with the various districts of the city of Amsterdam and its residents.
The assignment of the artistic team of In Proximity was: create a new opera that takes the opera Aida and the district of Amsterdam-Zuidoost as a starting point.
Watch the festival trailer: