A Paradise
Built in Hell (2019)

A Mixed Media Opera

" Our response to disaster gives us nothing less than a glimpse of who else we ourselves may be and what else our society could become... The recovery of this purpose and closeness without crisis or pressure is the great contemporary task of being human.”

Act 2: EXCESS
“We have created a manic world nauseous with the pursuit of material wealth. Many also bear their cross of imagined deprivation, while their fellow human beings remain paralysed by real poverty and suffering. Based on the Pakistan Heatwaves of 2017, here the idea of the Sun, is seen as a symbol of God, the life giver to all. The sun’s energy gives pleasure to millions be it on beaches or even going so far as artificially recreating the sun because we crave him so much. But every paradise will turn into a hell if it lasts too long. The excess of heat is something inescapable, we melt in the thick sweetness of our sensual excess, and our shameless opulence, while our discontent souls suffocate in the arid wasteland of spiritual deprivation.”
Music: ‘Industrial Heat’ by Juan Luis Montoro Santos Scenography: Marlot Meyer

Act 3: DATA FLOOD
“How casually do we deal with someone else’s life story?
What kind of stories are we willing to hear? What kind of stories move us? Why is it that the same audiences that are driven to tears by fictional blockbusters, remain affectless in the face of actual human suffering? Based on China’s floods and landslides, this idea of overflowing of data, information and stories of either joy or horror simply become distorted and lost to the point where suffering of others becomes so distanced from our personal experiences it does not even effect us.”
Music: ‘Shrine’ by Germán Medina Calle Scenography: Marlot Meyer

Opera is a format that strongly magnifies situations that you can recognise from reality and it is exactly with this aspect of the magnifying glass that translated this dramatic concept A Paradise Built in Hell - after the book of social critic Rebecca Solnit, who describes the purposeful joy that fills human beings in the face of disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and even a terrorist attack: “These are clearly not events to be wished for, yet they bring out the best in us and provide common purpose. Everyday concerns and societal structures vanish. A strange kind of liberation fills the air. People rise to the occasion. Social alienation seems to vanish. Our response to disaster gives us nothing less than “a glimpse of who else we ourselves may be and what else our society could become... The recovery of this purpose and closeness without crisis or pressure is the great contemporary task of being human.” A Paradise Built in Hell challenges the traditional concept of the dramatic opera format as we know it today. It opens up the opportunity to experiment with alternative narrative structures, unconventional produced music (and musicians) and suggests a scenography that mimics ‘the real’ while it no longer differs from your couch-perspective; a videogame. It plays with interactive transmissions and invites you to a (virtual)-reality-walk through... Paradise? Hell?