FACE: The Mute Opera (2018)
Multimedia project for ensemble, electronics and video
Author of the idea and concept, composer - Olga Bochihina

Video realization – Ivan Saharov

With participance of choreografer Maria Popova
and Street Theater "Eskizy v prostranstve":
Vladimir Akpaev, Polina Gavrilina,
Margarita Goloshumova, Uliana Gundrova,
Vasily Karpov, Alisa Kosareva,
Dmitry Maximenkov, Nikita Malzev,
Irina Miheyshina, Dmitry Myshkin,
Mikhail Petruhin, Iljas Sattarov
The idea of this opera came some years ago after contact with the photo artist Ivan Saharov. I was deeply impressed with his work of reproducing the old techniques of analogue printing: kallitype, cyanotype, salted paper prints, silver paper prints etc. All these techniques are complicated, very unstable, variable, fragile and even dangerous. They require specific conditions and a special place, which, in the language of photo masters, is called "the dark room". The main thing happens here, in the dark room, is alchemy – a fantastic and fascinating process of interaction between chemistry and the surface of the sheet paper. White paper, a white screen – I used it as a starting point…

Does the opera have a plot and characters?

The opera has no plot in the sense of a narrative story. One can say that there is a certain so-called "story" of the Author and the Heroine. The Author creates his Character, but we know nothing about Him, or Her. Possibly, he is Camille Saint-Saens and she is Dalila (from his opera "Samson and Dalila"), or maybe they are a certain 'He and She', or even the Author by himself and his Alter Ego. They co-exist, they move in parallel, where one can't exist without connection with the other. They are two main characters of the performance. However, they are not presented on the stage. Their presence is indirect. She is showed through the Voice, He is through the Writing. Each of them in some way becomes the reason of the appearance or the development of the other. Somewhere at the point of birth (in the central scene of the opera) they converge in order to disperse like rays, in the radiance of a total voice (first scene) and total writing (third scene): sonic speech and speech imprinted in symbols. In this sense, the opera itself is a Face which looks simultaneously in three directions.
The Opera itself is a main character which expresses, creates and clarifies itself in a non-verbal way. In the final reckoning, the opera is a formation that leads its way from non-development (in a photographic sense as well) to it being captured and fixed in printed symbols; it is an extremely long journey from muteness to the pronunciation of the first word.

What is the concept of the Opera?

The two central concepts of the opera might, in fact, be presented as a single entity: a sheet of paper which has two sides simultaneously – a white and even surface on one side and a sharp edge on the other.

In Photography – it is a moment which exists between visibility and invisibility. It is a feeling of presence of the image at the moment when it's invisible but exists on paper, when it tries to tauten and overcome the surface.

In Nature – it is a phenomenon when two seas (for example, Baltic Sea and North Sea) meet; their currents are colliding but not blending and it makes the line of their meeting visible. Sometimes it's called the border of the end of world. It doesn't exist physically, but is created by the tension of two sides.

In Character – it is the line between a real person and an image (a role). The point at which the character is determined by the performer and vice versa is elusive.

In speech – it is the moment when the world of inner nerves and tremors seeps into outer speech.

In Composition – it is the confrontation of two worlds: muteness and the inexpressible need for speaking.
Фото: Московская филармония
What does the title FACE reflect?

FACE is a border and a surface, an edge and a plane together. Face appears through the contact of the internal and external, the visible and invisible. Both the external and internal worlds leave their prints and traces on a face. Furthermore, it's also a surface on which there is opposition to silence and a necessity to express oneself. In other words, this surface is a theater: the theater of appearances and fictions.

Why is the opera 'mute'?

The Mute Opera is a way to say something without saying anything, it communicates non-verbally, just as mute people do. Mute people perceive language or information by looking at it, that is, they listen while looking, visualizing their speech in motion. The Mute Opera is a Face which speaks while looking and looks while speaking. This is a formation: muteness as an ability to speak and express, because «saying» says nothing anymore. In a sense, this is a social paradox too: muteness as a phenomenon everybody begins to talk about.

What is the language of The Mute Opera? Does anybody speak there?

There are three scenes in the opera, which correspond to three faces: a female face (first scene), a male face (third scene) and a central face (child's lullaby). Every scene has its own "speech". Female speech is presented with "whispers and cries" (just like Ingmar Bergman's eponymous film), which are visualized through four types of movement: fluctuating (according to flow of speech and whispers), broken lines (according to syllables), sliding (according to sustained sounds or screams) and frozen. The speech of the central lullaby is the language of a child. Male speech is about a process of writing, which is presented with a pen writing specially articulated text. In addition, there are mute texts in the opera, which exist only in the head of the author.

The Mute Texts

«…Я вероятно, слишком много пишу. Для меня такого быть не может. Я к этому пристрастился. В середке мозга я по-прежнему помню то время в Атланте, хоть и повторяюсь, когда голодал и был не в своем уме, но, может, в уме своем, когда писал огрызком карандаша на белых краях газет, которыми мои землевладельцы застелили, как ковриком, земляной пол. Безумие? Еще бы, но хорошее безумие, хотелось бы мне думать. Такого не забываешь, никогда…нет ничего волшебнее и прекраснее строк, образующихся на бумаге. Это же все, что есть. Все, что было когда-либо. Нет награды больше самого делания. ..»
Чарльз Буковски. Из писем Джону Мартину

"...Почему бы грекам, так своеобразно «имеющим» слово, не молчать и не вести себя скрывающим образом как раз там, где они постигают само исконное сокрытие, постигают λήθη? Но можно ли молчать об этом сокрытии, не говоря о нем хотя бы время от времени?...Человек сам «действует» рукой, потому что рука вместе со словом составляет его сущностное отличие...Не человек «имеет» руки, но рука вбирает в себя сущность человека, потому что только будучи сущностной сферой действия руки слово является сущностной основой человека. Слово, как нечто запечатленное с помощью знака и именно так предстающее перед взором человека, есть слово написанное, то есть письмо. Но слово как писание есть руко-писание, руко-пись..."
М. Хайдеггер. "Парменид"

«…Going and creating space is what sound does. The piece is an adventure of sound itself. The person who writes the sound—that is, the composer—willingly takes on the task of become in turn hammer, auto spring, glass (pencil, paper) and remaining open to this transformation. That does not always succeed. When the writing hand and the listening hand separate or even forget each other, it weakens the experience of the sound…»
Pierluigi Billone. About «MANI. De Leonardis»

«Приоткрой мне свой огненный лик – я сады алых роз видеть жажду!
Приоткрой мне уста – твой язык в блеске сладостных рос видеть жажду!
Мига жду я, что солнце красы лик сквозь прорези туч мне покажет!
Миг сей годы я жду – не часы! Первый пламенный луч видеть жажду!...»
Руми. Рифмованный перевод С. Сечивa

«…Cependant la danseuse s'étant pris le visage dans les mains se fit pathétique pour mon cœur. Et j'y vis un masque. Car il est des visages faussement tourmentés dans la parade des sédentaires, mais ce sont couvercles de boîtes vides. Car il n'est rien en toi si tu n'as rien reçu. Mais celle-là, je la reconnaissais comme dépositaire d'un héritage. Il était en elle ce noyau dur qui résiste au bourreau lui-même, car le poids d'une meule n'en ferait point sourdre l'huile du secret. Cette caution pour laquelle on meurt et qui fait que l'on sait danser…»
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry «CITADELLE», LXX

«…Я Тане на днях написал длинное лирическое письмо, но у меня неприятное чувство, что я неправильно надписал ваш адрес: вместо "сто двадцать два" - какой-то другой номер, на ура (тоже в рифму), как уже было не раз, не понимаю, отчего это происходит, - пишешь, пишешь адрес, множество раз, машинально и правильно, а потом вдруг спохватишься, посмотришь на него сознательно, и видишь, что не уверен в нем, что он незнакомый, - очень странно... Знаешь: потолок, па-та-лок, pas ta loque, патолог, - и так далее, - пока "потолок" не становится совершенно чужим и одичалым, как "локотоп" или "покотол"…»
Владимир Набоков. «Дар»
The only text that is used in opera, is a text of Dalila's Aria Camille Saint-Saens opera "Samson and Dalila":
Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix,
Comme s'ouvrent les fleurs
Aux baisers de l'aurore!
Mais, ô mon bien-aimé,
Pour mieux sécher mes pleurs,
Que ta voix parle encore!

Dis-moi qu'à Dalila
Tu reviens pour jamais,
Redis à ma tendresse
Les serments d'autrefois,
Ces serments que j'aimais!

Ah! Réponds à ma tendresse!
Verse-moi, verse-moi l'ivresse!
Réponds à ma tendresse…
Réponds à ma tendresse!
Ah! Verse-moi, verse-moi l'ivresse!

Ainsi qu'on voit des blés
Les épis onduler
Sous la brise légère,
Ainsi frémit mon cœur,
Prêt à se consoler,
À ta voix qui m'est chère!

La flèche est moins rapide
À porter le trépas,
Que ne l'est ton amante
À voler dans tes bras!

Ah! Réponds à ma tendresse!
Verse-moi, verse-moi l'ivresse!
Réponds à ma tendresse…
Réponds à ma tendresse!
Ah! Verse-moi, verse-moi l'ivresse!

Multimedia project for ensemble, electronics and video
For Violin and Piano
For Double Bass, Silent Piano, Tape
and Soprano and Tenor ad libitum

Cycle of pieces for different instruments
For Oboe, Clarinet, Saxophone, Trombone, Percussion, Harp, Piano and Assistant

For Bass Clarinet, Trombone, Piano, Harp, Synthesizer, Percussion and Strings

For Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Piano, Percussion,
2 Violins, Viola and Cello
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