The most-well known novel by Mishima Yukio (1925-1970) based on the incident of burning down the Kinkaku-ji Tempel in Kyoto follows the bizarre relationship between a young monk and the Golden Temple which starts to unfold already in the main character’s childhood when he hears stories from his father about the most beautiful thing in the world. The temple with all its beauty conquers the young boy’s mind, changes it, manipulates with it by manifesting itself to the boy at the most inappropriate moment and then again, keeping all its beauty to itself. In the state of confusion, the young monk is left with no choice but to destroy the source of this beauty in order to be set free.
Why a ballet? A destructive idea starts to move somewhere in the undefined dark depth of a human being. Before we know the meaning, something stirs and dances inside us.
An idea becomes an act through the chain of movements. A lot of these movements are meetings with people. A relationship between two persons is described by their distance and changes in it better than by words.
But first and foremost, BEAUTY. At times, Mishima’s text is itself like a description of a beautiful and magical ballet production: “Each individual part contained a reference to the beauty of the next individual part. The beauty of each detail was filled with its anxiety. Beauty dreamt of perfection yet had no idea of finalization, and so it was lured on to the next unknown beauty.”
The strata of the ballet’s musical material are formed by a solo cello, pre-recorded material and electronics. The cello plays live on the stage during the whole ballet performance.
“Yet how strange a thing is the beauty of music! The brief beauty that the player brings into being transforms a given period of time into pure continuance; it is certain never to be repeated; like the existence of dayflies and other such short-lived creatures, beauty is a perfect abstraction and creation of life itself.”
Ryoko Aoki holds a unique position in the field of Noh theatre as a female singer and performer. She has performed in several traditional Noh plays, historically the reserve of male actors. Above all, she is the pioneer of and inspiration for a new artistic form combining Noh with contemporary music.
Theodor Sink, the principal cello of Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. Theodor Sink has quickly taken the spotlight in the Estonian music scene as a versatile and charismatic musician.
The dancers of the Estonian National Ballet.
Light designer Margus Vaigur, video artist Taavi Miisu Varm
World premiere TPAM, YCC Yokohama Creativecity Center (Japan). Estonian premier 16.03.2020 Russian Drama Theater (Estonia), performance 17.03.2020 Russian Drama Theater (Estonia).
In the spotlight of the ballet stands Paul Keres, the master of Estonian chess, who holds a dignified status on the global chess arena and who has both enjoyed the glory of a national hero and carried on his shoulders the tragedy of the country and its people. As an active chess player he encountered the loss of a homeland, a failed attempt to emigrate, endless suspicion from the Soviet authorities and the obstacles set by the system to a possible world championship.
The inspiration for the composition originates from the rhythm and tempo of chess as an academic sport, the gracefulness of the chessmen, the minimalism of black and white, the immense contrast and tension, and on the sideline Keres’ involvement in the turbulent world politics. There occurs an inspiring parallel between the sense of time in music and chess: actual time vs perceived time.
Ülar Mark the architect designed six boxes on the stage, frames for six musicians – six instruments, six chessmen. Boxes are repressing, living in a box-shaped society makes a person’s actions predictable. As to sounds, boxes make it possible to approach every swing of the bow or the air individually, focus on microscopic nuances, create new syntheses and combinations.
The dancers of the Estonian National Ballet, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, conductor Kaspars Putniņš, YXUS Ensemble. Librettist Andri Luup, set designer Ülar Mark, light designer Margus Vaigur, video artist Taavi Miisu Varm, sound designer Kaarel Tamra.
Forest is a pattern – a pattern of soul and one’s existence. In this sense, the forest is everywhere – even where it should not exist. Thousands of people, cars, ideas, trams, expectations, impatiences, boredoms … all these are crossing the most crowded intersection of the city, the spot embraced by shopping centres, cinemas and transport terminals. Or perhaps this is the most human intersection in the city when thinking about the number of people who subconsciously go there, form patterns and then go away again. What seems a visual chaos might be a purposeful action (going from work to the cinema; from cinema to catch a tram; from tram to the shopping centre?) – all that in a steady flow. Sixty seconds staying still, in tense anticipation, thirty seconds in movement, whether crossing the road, or going to the right, straight, or to the left. “Beep-beep-be-beep”, the intersection is singing its meditative signal song. An electrifying experience (an electric guitar?). We are singing along. Together with our intersection, the intersection-forest. Envoys of free will are teaching the patterns of life.
The piece was commissioned by World Music Days in Tallinn in 2019. It was the opening performance on the 2nd of May 2019 on Hobujaama and Narva Avenue intersection by the intersection itself, Jonas Kaarnamets on electric guitar and Estonian Dance Agency. Local sound by Anton Ventsel and Rain Orgus.
Once upon a time there lived two boys, God and the Devil: the Devil, a dark, skinny, hairy, and kind creature; and God, a redheaded, ill-tempered, spoilt cherub. What did history have in store for them?
The striking dramatic arc of the allegorical tale about the parallel paths of good and evil begins in the childhood of the antithetical pair. God’s bullying and spreading rumours about the Devil leads to revenge, disappointment in humanity, and the creation of Hell. But the anger subsides, and with Heaven and Earth having collapsed in the meantime, Hell becomes overcrowded. So arises the quest for the New World. And thus they set off: the Devil and his wife leading the way, mankind following in an enormous exodus, and God at the very rear.
With sadness we bear witness to mankind’s propensity to foul everything they are given. In this story, after Earth falls, followed by Heaven, and finally even Hell, a new home is indeed found, another chance granted, but let’s be honest: how long can it endure? Man will forever be man.
Mare Kandre’s story is full of contrasts that spark the imagination. It tells of fascinating characters and their unexpected developments, while holding numerous musical and audio clues, such as an ominous silence in Heaven and the weeping of a child as the only sound to be heard from a devastated Earth. However, the main musical challenge lies neither in Heaven, Earth, or Hell – their sounds, after all, are already more or less familiar to all of us. The real mystery is the soundscape of the fabled New World.
Mare Kandre (1962 – 2005) was a renowned Swedish writer of Estonian descent from her mother’s side.
She is known in modern Swedish literature for her unique style and language, and her works display considerable versatility: there is punk-like defiance, Gothic gloom, and characteristic irony and sarcasm. The prose poem about God and the Devil is an allegory of the parallel paths and interweaving of good and evil in the world of man. The work offers an inverted fairy tale as well as a book of revelation.
In collaboration with Estonian, Finnish and Norweigan artists.
Supported by Finnish-Estonian cultural fund
Premiers in Spring 2021
The dance of life of Louis XIV
“I have come before you to convey my wishes! My chancellor will tell you the rest.” Thus the words of a 4-year-old Louis XIV, who will soon be dancing a central role in the historical ballet of monarchic Europe as the Sun King, go down in history.
If one were to compare human life to dance, the life of Louis XIV could indeed aptly be described as a dance of life. Ballet has been a symbol of opulence and prosperity at Louis’ court. He has personally danced in nearly 80 ballet roles, and has been a generous patron of ballet and the arts in general… Ballet is Louis’ secret language to communicate with the fairer sex.
Louis’ memorial canvas, however, is not all bright shades and happiness. There is also a great deal of anger, selfishness, suffering, weariness, powerlessness… Those that follow are set to inherit an empty treasury, a restless populace, and a failing monarchy. And yet, what a fine canvas…
Music played a significant role in the life of the Sun King. Growing up in the spirit of Plato, who had sent his students and children to bed with music, Louis too was gently lowered into the sea of sleep by soft melodies each evening. Royal grandeur was captured by Lully’s magnificent ballets and ceremonies. The arts orbiting the Sun King were a symbiosis of human taste and logic, unimaginable fantasy, and joyous surprises.
And that is also the foundation of the ballet’s music.
Magical pictures of abandoned castles by Italian photographer Nicola Bertellotti will be used as a design element at the ballet. The beauty of forgotten places, the halting human activity, the talking silence of the slowly departing splendor, the phenomenon of the end. A playable instrument that only rings in our imagination when we look closer.
The king is a fairy tale character, a real living, and ruling king. Louis XIV was a great king. But he was still born as a small child and experienced both insecurity and fear in his childhood: times were confusing. As a young man, he decided to change things – he created the State. Something never seen before. An Almighty State that must not only be feared but also admired. We have inherited from him this country, as well as the castle and the gardens of Versailles. And the ballet. Dance was also a means of showing the king’s glory. A state is theatre. Power is theatre. But theatre is a disappearing art, the show must start every day, just as the sun has to rise to make the day come again. The cunning courtiers, who realized that the King was now in full control gave him the name – Roi-Soleil, King The Sun. Tõnu Õnnepalu (librettist).
Premiers in 2021