With the song cycle Harawi, Olivier Messiaen composed an ode to his first wife, who slowly drifted away from him because of mental illness. He processed this farewell in his version of Tristan and Isolde: the mythical dramatic fatal love, “the love that must end in death.” A composition about love and dedication, but also about the impossibility of real contact. About the human inability to really know each other, and to understand each other’s inner world.
We wanted to make the idea of total dedication tangible, as well as its thin border with obsession. We filled the entire space with small drawings, very associatively and intuitively, based on the themes that we hear in the music of Harawi. We put the audience in a kind of bubble. You first see chairs along the walls, a pianist, and a singer. During the cycle, one can zoom in on the drawings and make connections. Via these drawings, made of charcoal, East India ink, marker pens, and spray paint, we enter a restless inner world: Messiaen’s brain.
Het Geluid 2009
directors Gable Roelofsen
photo courtesy Thijme Breukers
set, light Wikke van Houwelingen