THE HOUSE 2022 OPERA COMMISSION
By Rose Riebl in collaboration with The House Performance Ensemble
R E V E R E N C E
An Opera for Piano and Voice by Rose Riebl
Composed and performed by Rose Riebl, directed by Danielle O’Keefe and presented by ‘The House that Dan Built’, REVERENCE is part Requiem, part modern opera; and something entirely new. This singular and intense debut work combines piano, percussion, 6 solo voices and a chorus to create an emotionally charged, bold and layered work.
REVERENCE reshapes the traditional way we have come to experience opera or staged Requiems, and instead it is a journey together into the dark: an immersive, contemporary work, drawing on classical, post-classical, pop and ambient musical styles and using both classical and extended vocal techniques.
Inspired by Anne Carson’s translation of Antigone, this is a story of grief told through song. REVERENCE presents an opportunity to return to art as catharsis, communion and an expression of our shared loss. If we take grief to be a singular experience and mourning something which is processed in the collective, this work brings us all into the same room. From composer, through performers, to the audience and back again, this work is a circle. The experience of grief, mourning are shared and therefore, perhaps, alleviated.
This production is made up of piano, voice (both sung and vocal textures), sound, lighting and set design, percussion, movement and song. Ideally performed in the round, voices come from in front, behind, out of sight, centre stage: the audience is brought right into the heart of this sonic-world.
Sound design (Rose Riebl and Francesco Fabris) locates us in the broken city: sirens, barking dogs, a world falling apart; then met with pure stillness, the almost-silence of an empty city, the moments where we face our lives alone. Choreography uses minimalist, repeated patterns - inspired by Pina Bausch - to explore the individual and the collective. Bodies alone and in community, the organism of a social fabric. Lighting (XYZ) will be used to quite literally help us explore the themes of light and dark in this work: what happens in the shadows, where light illuminates, what happens when it is taken away. We will incorporate minimalist lines - squares, circles, beams - to evoke shape, memory and architecture. Set Design (Tobhiyah Stone Feller) will draw on natural elements to create a largely desolate landscape. The charcoal of burnt wood, dust, water, earth.
Following the format of a traditional Requiem, REVERENCE is set in 9 movements.
Syria was the first place to have professional mourners. They believed that repressed grief would live on inside you, turn into a demon called Bhalak who would eat you up from the inside. Crying is important. Barking is important. Wailing, howling and holding ourselves and each other in perfect stillness is important. In a culture that doesn’t have clearly defined mourning rituals, particularly around death and loss, REVERENCE is an important work which presents an opportunity for both performers and audience to journey into the heart of grief, mourning, loss and is itself an act of reverence for those who have passed, and those who are living.
Join us on this journey from darkness into light
ABOUT ROSE RIEBL
Rose Riebl is a pianist and post-classical composer. Her work as a professional concert pianist has seen her perform in some of Asia and Australia’s leading concert halls; her compositional work extends her intimate relationship with the piano into a realm of more fragile, soulful and transcendent works that guide the listener into vulnerable emotional spaces.
FIRST CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT - SYDNEY 2022