In 1925, while Igor Stravinsky was composing Oedipus Rex, he meditated the peculiar decision of using Latin in his score: “The word is a simple material which functions musically as a block of marble or a block of stone in architecture or sculpture”. That intriguing metaphor together with the designation of “opera-oratorio”, the artwork’s name chosen by the author himself, form a dramaturgical result that deliberately eludes its relationship with the standards of a peculiar genre. The play’s tragic development is replaced by a presentation, hieratical or distant, of
an adventure told by a narrator who, while exposing the facts using a living language
and dressed in contemporaneous clothing, acts as an intermediary between the
public and the theatrical figures.
The approach of Per Poc company is based on a stony or monumental condition, which Stravinsky wanted to summon in his work of art. The characters and the masculine choir achieve a sculptural presence based, with an extraordinary accuracy, on ancient Greek masks and archaeological remains. These also exhibit how time has engraved its traces and marks on them. The Stone bodies, broken and eroded, belong to the same era in which Sophocles conceived the namesake drama, the one that was then used by Stravinsky and the author of the libretto, the French writer Jean Cocteau. A continuous act of movement and exchange occurs between the singers and these stony pieces. The formers become a statue, which is simultaneously motivated by the music and the vocal impetus of each of the performers. The ritual aspect of this theatrical choice is combined with shadow theatre, a resource that is, at the same time, inspired by the paintings used to decorate Greek ceramics and employed to recreate certain episodes–the plague of Thebes, or the encounter between Oedipus and the sphinx–as well as the anagnorisis or recognition moments. The screen becomes a mental space, where past events are projected and revealed to the characters from a new tragical perspective.
Produced by the Quincena Musical de San Sebastián and PER POC company.