The buzz of stagnant traffic. Fragments of laughter. In the distance: a siren. On a bridge, a woman stands ready to cross. Soon, she will become lost in the streets, searching for what she has lost. Friends and passersby walk and think along with her. From their stories arises a timeless melody. An elegy of centuries, for voice, flute, viola, and harp. In another world, by another river, a poet sings a song for his deceased beloved. His song is so moving that the gate to the underworld opens for him. He may bring his bride back to life, on the condition that he does not look back at her on the way.
After the successful production of Misia, Revue Blanche presents a new performance with sound artist Katharina Smets, this time in the company of composer Frederik Neyrinck. Nenia – literally ‘song for the dead’ – is a kaleidoscopic exploration of loss. How do you cope with the death of a loved one? What does it mean to continue living in the presence of absence? Is there hope in memory, in the arts, in meeting with others? Revue Blanche asks these and other questions in a performance that takes the listener on a rollercoaster of mourning.
Four narrative layers resonate in this polyphonic project. There is a contemporary narrative by Katharina Smets, where autofictional and documentary elements come together. There are testimonies from experts in the field, offering reflection and solace. There are field recordings that anchor the narrator’s journey in a sometimes urban, sometimes natural sonic landscape. And of course, there is music. Frederik Neyrinck arranges, transcribes, and transforms timeless repertoire on loss. In doing so, he is inspired by the figure of Orpheus, the mythical singer-songwriter who attempted to retrieve his beloved Eurydice from the underworld. Drawing from the rich orphic tradition, Neyrinck paints in Nenia a highly personal musical landscape. From opera arias to elegies; from exuberant danses macabres to contemporary funeral songs: the most diverse sounds metamorphose into a new composition tailored to this unique quartet.
In five-voice counterpoint with Katharina Smets, Revue Blanche enters the twilight realm between concert, audio documentary, and narrative; between dream and parable; between darkness and light.
Audio & narration: Katharina Smets
Composition: Frederik Neyrinck
Dramaturgy: Katherina Lindekens