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World Premiere of Chaya Czernowin's Infinite now at Vlaamse Opera

Mar. 30, 2017

World Premiere of Chaya Czernowin's <em>Infinite now</em> at Vlaamse Opera

On April 18, Chaya Czernowin’s eagerly anticipated new opera Infinite now has its debut at Vlaamse Opera in Ghent, Belgium.

The production is directed by Luk Perceval, with staging and video by Phillip Bussmann and electronics by IRCAM in collaboration with Czernowin. Titus Engel conducts, with a cast of six actors, six singers, four instrumental soloists and orchestra, creating a powerful and timely combination of opera and theater, sung and spoken word, music and drama.

Luk Perceval’s 2014 play FRONT, based on Erich Maria Remarque’s novel All Quiet on the Western Front and personal accounts of trench warfare in World War I, serves as the point of departure for Czernowin’s new opera. For Infinite now, Czernowin merged the themes in Perceval's play, which conveys the harrowing stories of soldiers caught in an unending battle, constantly exposed to the reality of death, with Chinese author Can Xue’s novella Homecoming, about a woman who happens upon a house at the edge of an abyss and gradually realizes that it is impossible for her to escape. Though seemingly unrelated, both works explore situations in which the moment becomes dilated to the point of infinity.

Czernowin, who wrote the libretto along with Perceval, refers to the opera as "an experience"—"a state: in the midst of a morass, in the presence of an imminent disaster. What is going on, how long, when will it end – all is unclear." Though the work is initially a merger of the two literary narratives, the opera is more than just about Homecoming or the First World War: "It is about our existence now and here. How we survive, how we are destined to survive, and how even the smallest element of vitality commends survival, and with it, hope."

(The creation of Infinite now Video 1: Orchestral rehearsal teaser; Video 2: Recording at IRCAM)

Czernowin's recent interview with composer Clara Ianotta, published in Van Magazine, gives a fascinating and detailed glimpse into Infinite now (read it here). Subsequent performances take place at Vlaamse Opera Antwerp (April 30-May 6), Mannheim National Theater (May 26-31, June 5-18) and at the Philharmonie des Paris (June 14).

View the score of Infinite now:

More information on Chaya Czernowin can be found at

Chaya Czernowin
Infinite now (2015-2016)
opera in 6 acts
libretto (En, Fr, Chi, Flem) by Luk Perceval and Chaya Czernowin
after texts by Erich Maria Remarque, Can Xue and soldier’s letters from the First World War
for soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, countertenor, baritone, bass and actors
Instrumental soloists: gtr(amp).egtr-2vc
Orchestra: 3(pic).3(ca).3(bcl).2(cbsn)-

(painting: Sunset © Koen van den Broek)