het Theater Festival

“That is real magic, not just theatre.”

Jury report

“What Requiem pour L. chiefly does – at both an artistic and an emotional level – is to dissolve opposition. Song is not opposed to dance, Western is not opposed to non-Western, and sorrow is not opposed to joy.”


Requiem pour L.

Alain Platel & Fabrizio Cassol/les ballets C de la B/Festival de Marseille/Berliner Festspiele

For Requiem pour L. director/choreographer Alain Platel and composer Fabrizio Cassol turned their attention to Mozart. The idea came from Cassol, known from the avant-garde jazz band Aka Moon. With this contemporary interpretation of Mozart’s Requiem, he continues to write a personal artistic history in which he brings together various musical cultures around a particular theme. For this he draws on both oral and written traditions. Fourteen African and European musicians reconstruct Mozart’s Requiem by fusing it with jazz, opera and popular African music. Alain Platel searches for a physical and visual translation of associations and images that conjure up a requiem, from a funeral mass, to mass graves, to farewell rituals.

music Fabrizio Cassol after Mozarts Requiem | direction Alain Platel | conductor Rodriguez Vangama | by & with Rodriguez Vangama (guitar and elektric bass), Boule Mpanya, Fredy Massamba & Russell Tshiebua (vocals), Nobulumko Mngxekeza, Owen Metsileng & Stephen Diaz/Rodrigo Ferreira (lyric vocals), Joao Barradas (accordion), Kojack Kossakamvwe (elektric guitar), Niels Van Heertum (euphonium), Bouton Kalanda & Erick Ngoya, Silva Makengo (likembe) & Michel Seba (percussions) | dramaturgy Hildegard De Vuyst | musical assistant Maribeth Diggle | choreographic assistant Quan Bui Ngoc | video Simon Van Rompay | camera Natan Rosseel | set design Alain Platel | set realized by Wim Van de Cappelle in collaboration with decoratelier NTGent | light design Carlo Bourguignon | sound design Carlo Thompson, Guillaume Desmet | costume design Dorine Demuynck | stage manager Wim Van de Cappelle | photography Chris Van der Burght | production managers Katrien Van Gysegem & Valerie Desmet | direction assistant & tourmanager Steve De Schepper | trainee performing arts Lisaboa Houbrechts | trainee theatre engineering Ijf Boullet | thanks to Isnelle da Silveira, Filip De Boeck, Barbara Raes, Griet Callewaert, decoratelier NTGent, Mevrouw S.P., Juffrouw A.C., Fondation Camargo (Cassis, France), Sylvain Cambre-ling & Connexion vzw | special thanks to L. and her family for their exceptional candour, their deep trust and the unique support to this special project. | in dialogue with dr. Marc Cosyns | production les ballets C de la B, Festival de Marseille & Berliner Festspiele | coproduction Opéra de Lille (FR), Théâtre National de Chaillot Paris (FR), Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg (LU), Onassis Cultural Centre Athens (GR), TorinoDanza (IT), Kampnagel Hamburg (DE), Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele (DE), Festspielhaus St. Pölten (AT), L’Arsenal Metz (FR), Scène Nationale du Sud-Aquitain – Bayonne (FR), La Ville de Marseille-Opéra (FR) & Aperto Festival / Fondazione I Teatri – Reggio Emilia (IT) | distribution Frans Brood Productions | with the support of the Flemish authorities, City of Ghent, Province East Flanders, North Sea Port and the Belgian Taxshelter

From the jury report:

Theatre, like religious rites, helps us deal with disaster and death. Only in the theatre do we want to believe that the dead can rise again. Requiem pour L. by Fabrizio Cassol and Alain Platel taps into that power of the theatre, but in so doing, also relies, not by chance, on the solace that music provides, particularly Mozart’s Requiem. Mozart died before he was able to complete that Requiem, but in the end a composer friend, Franz Xaver Süssmayer, finished it. However, Fabrizio Cassol returned to Mozart’s original score and completed it in his own way. He did not efface himself like Süssmayer.

As in Coup fatal (2014), his earlier production with Platel, he collaborated with musicians from Africa, Portugal and Belgium. That gives this work a very different timbre and tone: instead of a classical orchestra, we hear accordion, mbira, electric guitar and euphonium. Cassol also replaced the choirs with individual voices and some Latin texts were given an African translation. Something new emerged that is neither African nor Western music. Its vitality is juxtaposed with a soundless black and white film of a dying woman, who dominates the stage like a continuous memento mori.

And it is in that juxtaposition of film and musicians that something extraordinary happens. Not only do the African musicians approach Mozart differently from us Western Europeans, but they also have a different attitude to mourning and death. No sorrowful faces or awkward gestures for them. They ‘celebrate’ a death exuberantly. They need no encouragement: the high-spirited interpretation of the music soon has them dancing. Alain Platel captured and reinforced that joie de vivre.

When the woman dies on screen, the musicians launch into an exuberant finale. As if to say: this life is over, but the memory lives on. So in this production the woman rises again every evening. Not so much as an individual. As spectators we know next to nothing about her. Her resurrection is not pretence. The woman who allowed herself to be filmed expressed an act of faith in life and that is what the performers convey. That is real magic, not just theatre.

€30 (standard) / €25 (-25/65+, professionals) / €8 (-19)
duration: 100 min.