These two works – Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex (1927) and Samy Moussa’s world premiere Antigone (2020) – are all about crime and punishment. This new production by the top British choreographer and director Wayne McGregor brings together the worlds of classical tragedy, modern dance and music from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Compelling classical tragedies in modern form
In Oedipus Rex, Stravinsky’s imposing opera-oratorio in Latin, the city of Thebes is afflicted by the plague. The only way to end it is to find and punish the old king’s murderer. Under pressure from his desperate subjects, King Oedipus goes in search of the perpetrator and discovers the horrific truth – that he himself is the guilty man
New composition by Samy Moussa
While Stravinsky’s oratorio assigns a key role to the male chorus, the Canadian composer Samy Moussa features the female chorus in his new composition. His Antigone, sung in Ancient Greek, deals with the tragedy of Oedipus’s daughter. Moussa’s lively, colourful sound palettes have previously been performed by the Wiener Philharmoniker and London Symphony Orchestra, among others. Conductor Erik Nielsen, a specialist in the modern and contemporary repertoire, will lead the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra in the premiere of Moussa’s major vocal composition.
Wayne McGregor is a big name in the international world of dance and opera. Dutch National Ballet has previously performed his Chroma and Yugen to great acclaim. He has also directed various opera productions, including for the Royal Opera House in London (Dido and Aeneas and Acis and Galatea) and the English National Opera (Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice). His intense contemporary idiom of movement is a perfect match for the intense classical stories of Oedipus and Antigone.
Musical direction Erik Nielsen
Choreography and stage direction Wayne McGregor
Set and costume design Vicki Mortimer
Lighting design Lucy Carter
Video design Akhila Krishnan
Dancers Dutch National Ballet
Sung in Latin
Libretto Jean Cocteau, based on Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex
Oedipus Sean Panikkar
Jocaste Sarah Connolly
Creon Bastiaan Everink
Tiresias Rafal Siwek
Sung in Ancient Greek, composed for women’s chorus and orchestra
Samy Moussa in collaboration with Niall Potter
Based on texts by Aeschylus, Apollodorus, Empedocles, Euripides, Philostratus of Lemnos and Sophocles
Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra
Chorus of Dutch National Opera
Chorus master Edward Ananian-Cooper
Co-commission and co-production with Den Norske Opera (Oslo).
Antigone: Co-commission with Festival de Lanaudière (Canada).
Photo: Marta Syrko