Kourliandski — Nosferatu

Fancymusic, 2016 CD


Nosferatu: Tasos Dimas
Persephone: Sofia Hill
Coryphaeus: Alla Demidova
Three Graeae: Natalia Pschenitschnikova
The Mirror of Three Graeae: Eleni Lydia Stamellou

Dmitri Kourliandski

A contemporary rendition of Nosferatu can be interesting only when viewed through the prism of an ontological interpretation of certain dichotomies, such as spirit and body, light and darkness, the masculine and the feminine, the warm and the cold, East and West, life and death. In this sense, blood is a unique embodiment of such dichotomies: when it circulates through our veins, being concealed from our eyes, it symbolizes life, but when we see blood spilled, it stands for death. Nosferatu needs to imbibe blood, in order to go beyond the ordinary and the commonplace, to be in contact with the unknown and the transcendental. In his quest for the unknowable, he is poised between life and death.

In addition to being an original poetic text, the libretto uses a great many factual enumerations, such as lists of items related to human anatomy, to components of human blood, as well as lists of ailments, of poisonous and medicinal plants and herbs, and of many other things. These lists set in motion the mechanism of generating symbols and meanings. The human circulatory system turns into a symbolical labyrinth. We are presented with a hallucinogenic landscape in which the lofty collides with the lowly, life with death, light with darkness, the past with the future, in the continuous movement toward the otherworldly. This collision engenders a supernatural present that teems with Erinyes, nightmares, life-giving and lethal visions. The labyrinth leads Nosferatu not to heaven but to the nucleus of the other world that conceals a new Hades or, perhaps, a new paradise.

The opera “Nosferatu” is an attempt to immerse into the human organism, to reflect the sounds and images produced inside the body. The action of the opera actually takes place entirely inside Nosferatu, and all of its characters are products of his inner world. That world constantly regenerates and reconstructs itself, showing how desperate human civilization is.

The opera puts a special emphasis on the quality of despair, starting with the mythology of ancient Greece, with Persephone as the first example of the living/dead dichotomy (each year she would spend six months in Hades and six months on earth), through the rich analogies from the Medieval literatures, all the way to the literary themes of the Romantic period, and continuing in the cinematography of the 20th and 21st centuries, which includes over one hundred films on the subject.

From the standpoint of music, the idea of immersion into the human organism is realized not so much through naturalistic means, but rather through an attempt to recreate the rhythmic and acoustic aura of a functioning organism in the structure of the musical score and in the very material of the sounds: the claustrophobic nature of the human body is depicted as a cage in which the free spirit is doomed to thrash about.

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