Madrid - Stuttgart - Venice, 30,31 May 2009 - 17,18 July 2009 - 1 October 2009

Thursday 1 October, 9 p.m.
Teatro Goldoni 
José-María Sanchéz-Verdú
music and libretto José Maria Sanchez Verdú
from the novel of the same name by Carlos Fuentes
director Susanne Øglænd
scene Mascha Mazur
lighting Andreas Fuchs
video Jan Speckenbach
with Sara Sun (soprano), Consuelo: Truike van der Poel (mezzo soprano), Felipe: Andreas Fischer (bass)
musical director José-María Sánchez-Verdú
Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart
Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin
auraphon: SWR Experimentalstudio
produced by Musik der Jahrhunderte Stuttgart, Operadhoy Madrid, La Biennale di Venezia
as part of the ENPARTS – European Network of Performing Arts project
with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union
In 2008, the Biennale di Venezia launched the first Italian multi-annual project shared and supported by the Culture Programme of the European Union, with the idea of giving impetus to a Europe that can also find unity in the name of the various forms of culture. Through the Dance, Music and Theatre sectors, the Biennale has established a live performance network – European Network of Performing Arts (ENPARTS) – which involves six other major international partners, equally interested in new languages and experimenting with new forms of creativity: Dance Umbrella in London, Dansens Hus in Stockholm, Berliner Festspiele - Spielzeit Europe, Bitef in Belgrade, Musicadhoy in Madrid, Musik der Jahrhunderte in Stuttgart.
The development and production of new creativity in the disciplines of choreography, drama, music and audiovisual works bearing witness to their genesis and outcomes, the promotion of campus workshops and multidisciplinary research are a fundamental part of the joint programme that involves all the partners.
The multimedia work of José-María Sánchez-Verdú, Aura, arises from the context of the European network of live performance; following the debut at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid (30-31 May), Aura will stages at the Theaterhaus Stuttgart (17-18 July) and at the Teatro Goldoni in Venice on 1 October.
José-María Sánchez-Verdú (1968), author of the libretto and composer of the music, drew his inspiration from the novel of the same name by Carlos Fuentes for his chamber opera, Aura. Exponent of that “magical realism” characterising so much Latin American literature, in Fuentes’ novels events occur almost simultaneously, and the boundary between life and death is stripped away, and reality and fiction are confused.
In Aura, Fuentes describes the experiences of a man in the house of an old lady in a surprising manner: while looking for work, the young historian Felipe enters a dark old house in a district he thought to be uninhabited. He becomes an employee in the service of the widow, Consuelo, who lives in that house with her young niece Aura. One of his tasks is to remain at home with the two women. Felipe works on the estate of the late General Llorente. Very soon, the boundaries between reality and illusion are blurred. What is real, what is imagined, and are the two women really two different people? Felipe is also a kind of reincarnation of the dead general. The past and the present no longer seem to follow a linear chronological succession, but intersect and overlap.
From this imaginative plot, Sanchez-Verdú develops an evocative perception of music and space. Thinking of the particular pattern created by the literary model, the composer has developed a new tool, along with the SWR Experimentalstudio: the Auraphon, which consists of five gongs and tam-tam assigned mostly to the main character. The voices of the Neue Vocalsolisten and the electronics create vibrations that produce mysterious oscillations. The sound seems to swell out of nowhere to flow back into nothingness.
The idea of the video, which uses both pre-recorded and live sections, raises the notion of the doppelgaenger, or double, the alter ego, transferring this – its main theme – from the original text and presenting it on stage.
José Maria Sánchez-Verdú (Algeciras - Spain, 1968) With a degree in orchestral conducting, musicology and composition from the the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música in Madrid (where he would teach counterpoint for several years), Verdú also holds a degree in law from the Universidad Complutense. From 1996 to 1999, he trained further in conducting with Arturo Tamayo and Wojciech Rajski and in composition with Hans Zender at the Hochschule für Musik und Kunst Darstellende of Frankfurt. In 1997, he was composer in residence at the Accademia di Spagna in Rome. As conductor, he has worked with many contemporary music ensembles from Spain, Italy, Germany. He has received commissions from the Biennale für Neue Musik of Hanover, the German Pavilion at EXPO 2000, the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Orquesta Nacional de España, Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid, the Festival Internacional de Música y Danza di Granada, the Teatro Münchener Biennale (which commissioned a chamber opera from him in 2006), the Teatro Real in Madrid (which commissioned an opera from him in 2007). His music is played by numerous festivals and institutions - Tage für Neue Musik (Stuttgart), Saarbrücken Festspiele, Alte Oper (Frankfurt), Philharmonie (Berlin and Cologne), Konzerthaus (Berlin), Gawandhaus (Leipzig), Progetto-Musica (Rome), Spring Festival (Prague), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Lincoln Center (New York). Among the prizes his work has won: Cristóbal Halffter (1995), two SGAE awards (1996 and 1997), the prize from the Spanish Ministry for Culture Colegio de España in Paris (1998), first prize of the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie (1999), Förderpreis in Komposition della Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung (Munich, 2000), the Bergische Biennale prize (Wuppertal, 2001), the Spanish national prize for music (2003). Since October 2001, he has been teaching composition at the Robert-Schumann-Musikhochschule in Düsseldorf. He lives in Berlin.