Book of Disquiet in Lucerne and Athens

Michel van der Aa - Book of Disquiet - Lucerne Festival - Foto Stefan Deuber - Light design Floriaan Ganzevoort

Photography Stefan Deuber

‘The Book of Disquiet’ was featured at the Lucerne Festival in August and received its first Greek performances on 15 and 16 December 2017, at the Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens. Making use of a new Greek translation by Annie Spyrakou, the opera featured the actor Miltiadis Fiorentzis, and the Greek contemporary music group Ergon Ensemble, conducted by Kasper de Roo.

A cutting-edge integration of music, live action and video, ‘The Book of Disquiet’ is built from text fragments by the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. In his work, Pessoa often casts himself in a series of distinct characters, or ‘heteronyms’, portrayed as multiple personalities on the video and soundtrack of Van der Aa’s work. His ‘Book of Disquiet’ was a posthumously reconstructed autobiography of the alter ego Bernando Soares, described as a ‘mutilation’ of Pessoa’s own personality – an obsessive cataloguer of anecdotes, dreams and moods that gradually push him closer to the nature of the self.

Van der Aa’s third piece of music theatre premiered in 2009. It is also one of his most widely performed pieces. For this version Floriaan Ganzevoort made a new light design. It was staged in London and New York, receiving strong reviews in both cities. In his 5-star review for The Times in London, Richard Morrison described how Pessoa’s ‘manic intensity beneath a seemingly static surface is wonderfully explored in Van der Aa’s score’, while the New York Times’s James R. Ostreich found it ‘memorable … imaginative … riveting’.

Libretto: Michel van der Aa (after Fernando Pessoa)
Stage direction: Michel van der Aa
Scenography: Marc Warning
Light design: Floriaan Ganzevoort
Dramaturgy: David Tushingham
Videoscript and direction: Michel van der Aa

Film cast:
Man: Bernardo Soares
Ophelia: Ana Moura
Vincento: João Reis
Young Ophelia: Sara Ramadinha Pereira
Street sweeper: David Pereira
Bookkeeper: Rogério Tavares
Major: Miguel Corte-Real