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Work of the Week – Thierry Pécou: Stalker

Post-apocalyptic scenery in a Gothic church: Thierry Pécou's opera Stalker breaks new ground in music theatre and can be experienced from 22 May 2024 in the St-Ouen Abbey Church in Rouen, where the world premiere will be performed by the Ensemble Variances under the direction of the composer as part of the "Normandie Impressionniste and Curieux Printemps" festival.

Pécou chose the dystopian science fiction novel of the same title by the brothers Arkady and Boris Strugazki from 1971 as the basis for his new work. The film adaptation by director Andrei Tarkovsky, released eight years later, became world-famous, moving far away from the original novel, breaking up the chronology of the plot and emphasising other themes. Pécou's musical theatre adaptation of Stalker is also based on Tarkovsky's film, although he condenses the plot and adds philosophical interludes and ironic humour from the Strugazki brothers' book.

Stalker by Thierry Pécou: Augmented Reality in Music Theatre for New Listening Experiences

Stalker is an immersive audio opera in which the audience is supposed to wander around wearing headphones. The plot transports us to a present that has fallen out of time: Earth has been invaded by an alien civilisation. The contact zone, abandoned and sealed off by the military, is the scene of deadly paranormal phenomena. A "chamber" is said to exist at its centre: Anyone who enters it will have a long-cherished wish fulfilled. A respected scientist and a successful writer pay a stalker, a kind of mystical guide and expert on the zone, to lead them to the chamber.

Stalker has the idea of conceiving a new genre of opera. This should break away from traditional lyrical theatre and turn to a more fragmented form. At the centre is the search for the function of space and time. The audience will no longer be positioned strictly frontally, but will be transported into an immersive flow of sound as they wander. While Stalker is travelling through different living spaces, the scenes alternate between proximity and distance. Acoustic perception is ensured by an audio headset system, which is made available to all viewers. (Thierry Pécou)

After two performances in the Gothic abbey church of St-Ouen, the production moves to other spectacular locations in Normandy: Stalker can be seen in the former airship hangar in Ecausseville on 29 August and in the ruins of the Levavasseur spinning mill on 31 August.

 

Further Reading:

Thierry Pécou: Composer Profile

Stalker: Work Details and Online Score

Website Ensemble Variances 

 

illustration: Created with artificial intelligence / Adobe Firefly
photo Thierry Pécou: Cyrille Guir

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Head of Promotion | Concert Opera Media Division

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