Kopernikus

Kopernikus. Opera in two acts, subtitled 'Rituel de Mort,' composed in 1980 by Claude Vivier, who also wrote the libretto. Firmly rejecting traditional opera, Kopernikus is actually a series of tableaux which evoke the passage from life to death. Agni, the principal character, sees seven characters from her childhoold dreams gravitate around her: her mother, Lewis Carroll, Merlin, Mozart, the Queen of the Night, Tristan and Isolde, and Copernicus. Vivier named his opera after the last of these, whom, he said, 'discovered that the center of the universe was not the earth, but rather the sun. What interests me, therefore, is the idea of the cosmic seeker, who began to see beyond the earth. He is not introduced until the end of the opera, it is he who opens the gates of heaven..'. (Aria, vol 3, Spring 1980). This work is built as a great meditation on dreams and spirituality, and it seeks, according to Daniel Moisan, to 'hypnotize the spectator, to literally captivate him, without providing any insight as to its meaning' (Aria, vol 3, Summer 1980). The language used is at times French, at other times German, but Viver also used a completely imaginary language based more on tonal colour than on intelligibility. An orchestral ensemble made up of no more than seven musicians is located on the stage. Kopernikus was premiered 9 May 1980 at the Monument national by the Atelier de musique contemporaine and the Atelier de jeu scénique of the University of Montreal. Jocelyne Fleury-Coutu created the role of Agni, the staging was by Marthe Forget, and the musical direction was by Lorraine Vaillancourt. The opera was subsequently revived by the Événements du neuf in Montreal (1985, 1986, 1988, 1989) and in Paris (1989), by a British ensemble at the Almeida International Festival of Contemporary Music and Performance in London in 1985, and by the Vancouver New Music Society in Vancouver in 1990.