text Yannis Ritsos
conception Marianne Pousseur & Enrico Bagnoli
original music Marianne Pousseur
direction, setting and light Enrico Bagnoli
sound and sound effect Diederick De Cock
interpretation Marianne Pousseur
artistic advisor Guy Cassiers e Josse de Pauw
costumes Christine Piqueray
direction and setting assistant Ilaria Mozzambani 

Compagnia Khroma
coproduction Théâtre de Liège, Théâtre des Tanneurs
with the collaboration of Brigittines and Maison des Cultures et de la cohésion de Molenbeek
with the support of Ministère de la Communauté français Wallonie-Bruxelles, service du Théatre

Running time 1h

Played in French with Italian subtitles

National Première

After Isméne, which debuted at VIE Festival in 2008, the artistic research of Marianne Pousseur and Enrico Bagnoli on the Greek poet Yannis Ritsos and the relationship between male and female in the Greek mythology goes on. With Phèdre, the second chapter of a triptych dedicated to Ritsos’ poems and that will end in 2015 with Ajax, the collaboration started in 1991 between Marianne Pousseur, one of the most acclaimed performers of contemporary music, and Enrico Bagnoli, light designer already since 1985 and for many years a collaborator of Thierry Salmon continues. The two artists look for a total fusion of visual language, music and theatre. The Phèdre of Yannis Ritsos is a successful woman who falls suddenly in love with Hippolytus, much younger than her. Between them, there is an almost filial love, which is guilty, dirty and impure at the same time; this love brings out the theme of “purity” next to the theme of femininity. Phèdre is just the victim of a situation that oppresses and imprisons her and that will tragically lead to a cruel end. Surrounded by machines that live in autonomy, Phèdre moves herself in a scene that seems almost alive, animated by ghosts and infernal machines that become an echo and a projection of Phèdre herself, torn between the blinding love and the absolute disregard for Hyppolitus’ life. Phèdre moves between dark and light, calm and noise: this scene is not only Phèdre’s physical but also psychological space.

Phèdre, a race against time, consideration on visual form.

Phèdre is a victim of a situation that imprisons her, like a bird in a cage. Every action, every decision, catch her more and more. It’s a dead end. Only death can solve her situation, but, it comes too late, as Ristos said. The first visual concept is that of a cage. It can be a cage of sound, virtual or unreal, but it is still a cage. The second concept is that of durability. When the show starts, Phèdre has already made her decision, she has already written the end. A symbolic object, such as a large hourglass, allows the public to see the passage of time. With the last grain of sand the show ends and the final act will accomplish. Even the scenic elements must have a deadline. Ice melting, material that decomposes and becomes wet, water that turns into steam. Throughout the show the space is transformed. A ‘temporary’ scene. A large clock hanging from the ceiling marks space and time. The physical phenomena (light, sound) develop quietly, are fatal, irreversible … We see the birth and growth, and you cannot accelerate or delay the events. The use of natural phenomena emphasizes the inevitability of the decision of Phèdre. (…) There is a constant sense of danger, not just visual. Drops falling on burning panels, sinister sounds and movements of breaking ice, the set as a whole should have its own life. Metal plates and suspended ice sculptures collide with objects created for this purpose, a scene created by autonomous machines. The physical space and sound together define the passage of time. In some moments the scene will be populated with moving shadows. In the poetry of Ritsos the shadows have their independent life, as she moves in the room and multiply them spontaneously. The light, with a similar technique to that of film editing, has the function of guiding the narrative. The light will lead the concentration and the audience’s gaze from the foreground – a hand, a look, an expression of the face – the whole scene. The light will be Charon, leading the spectator from the real world to the psychic world.


Enrico Bagnoli and Marianne Pousseur, biography

Enrico Bagnoli

Enrico Bagnoli began working in theater and opera in the 80’s as a set designer and lighting designer.
His first opera productions are Puccini’s Tosca and Boheme at the Festival of Torre del Lago in 1985.
He collaborated with director Thierry Salmon for all its shows, including The Trojan Women (1987), A. by Agatha (1986), The Demons (1992) and Faustae Tabulae (1995). He worked in the ’90s with Stop Palmizi, Raoul Ruiz, Elio De Capitani, Ferdinando Bruni, Amos Gitai, Andrea de Rosa. He was a member of the team of Jacques and Isabelle Delcuvellerie Pousseur.
With Luk Perceval, has participated in most of his productions productions, from Ten Orloog (1997) to Macbeth (2004).
Enrico Bagnoli worked regularly with the Ro Theater, Rotterdam, Ghent Muziek Lod, the Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Antwerp and Toneelhuis. Since 1998 he began a close collaboration with Guy Cassiers.
Since then, he has participated in almost all the creations of the director of Antwerp, in the role of “vormegever” or responsible for the visual form, set and lighting design. In particular: De Sleutel (1998), The Woman Who Walked into Doors (2001), the project Proust (2003-2005), Hersenschimmen (2005), the Triptych of Power – Mephisto (2006), Wolfskers (2007), Atropa (2008) – Under the Volcano (2009) and the House of the Sleeping Beauties (2009). Musil 1 (2010), Sang et Roses, Cour d’Honneur du Festival d’Avignon (2011), Musil 2 (2011), Heart of Darkness (2011), Musil 3 (2012), Das Rheingold; opera by Richard Wagner Teatro Alla Scala (2010), Die Walkure; opera by Richard Wagner Opening night of the season of Teatro Alla Scala (7 December 2010), Siegfried; opera by Richard Wagner Teatro Alla Scala (2012). With Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and collaborated on A History of the world in ten chapters and a half (2007) and Origin (2008).
Enrico Bagnoli is also director and together with Marianne Pousseur founded the “Khroma” a musical theatre company. Since 1990 has staged several creations of musical theater including: Songbooks by John Cage (1996), The Voice of Darkness (1997), L’Enfant et les Sortilèges by Ravel (2001), Peer Gynt (2005), Ismene Yannis Ritsos, a work for solo voice with original music by George Aperghis (2008), Phedre di Yannis Ritsos,(2013). For this show Bagnoli has received the award from the Belgian theater press in 2009 for best set design and lighting. The show was presented at various international festivals such as Music in Strasbourg, Marseille GMEM, Ars Musica in Brussels and the Festival d’Automne in Paris.
Enrico Bagnoli also created the lighting for exhibitions, multimedia installations and as a consultant for several architects. Since 1990 he has developed software for the control of light and media that is distributed and installed in over 95 countries.
Collaborated in the design and manufacture lighting for “11 bridges in Chicago” (1999), and to the airport in Los Angeles (2000), the monument of independence of Turkmenistan (2000).
He has designed and implemented a dynamic keyboard for the construction of the partition of light and color of the “Prometheus” by Scriabin, with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège, conducted by Pierre Bartholomée. (1995).
In 2004 the city of Brussels asks him to make a new version of “Son et Lumieres” for the Grand Place. In 2008, the city of Ghent appointed him artistic director of the Festival of Lights, to be held in Ghent in 2011.
Between 2010 and 2013, he creates the scenery and the lights of a new production of Der Ring des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner at the Teatro alla Scala and the Staatsoper in Berlin, in a new production directed by Guy Cassiers and the musical direction of Daniel Barenboim.

Marianne Pousseur

While studying classical singing and chamber music at the Conservatory of Liege, Marianne Pousseur has sung in both ensembles directed by Philippe Herreweghe, Collegium Vocale and La Chapelle Royale.
She participates simultaneously in several performances of the Théâtre du Ciel Noir directed by Isabelle Pousseur. The stage version of Pierrot Lunaire by Arnold Schoenberg has been a film with Ensemble Musique Oblique conducted by Philippe Herreweghe, and a CD recording for the label Harmonia Mundi France.
She performs regularly with ensembles such as the Schoenberg Ensemble in The Hague, (direction Reinbert de Leeuw), Remix Porto, Die Reihe Vienna, etc.. and with the Ensemble Intercontemporain, particularly under the direction of Pierre Boulez, in a repertoire essentially turned the twentieth century, the creation and musical theater. She was invited by the Festival d’Automne in Paris to interpret Infinito Nero by Salvatore Sciarrino, she is also an actress in Lohengrin with Ensemble Intercontemporain, with ASKO (Amsterdam), with Ensemble Risognanze (Milano). With this latest ensemble she records Lohengrin for the label ‘Col Legno’, published in 2008. This recording won the 2009 MIDEM Classical Awards in Cannes.
His theatrical experience allows her to be actress reciting in symphonic works as Psyche by César Franck and Peer Gynt by Grieg in a concert version conducted by Kurt Masur with the Orchestra National de France and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
In collaboration with Enrico Bagnoli, she staged several musical theater creations include: Songbooks and John Cage’s Song of darkness, a show built from songs by Hanns Eisler and Bertolt Brecht. Babar by Poulenc, with Leonardo da Vinci Orchestra conducted by Oswald Sallaberger. With the same collaborators, she also designs a staging of L’enfant et les sortilèges by Maurice Ravel.
For her, George Aperghis composed in 2004 Dark Side, created in Athens with the Ensemble Intercontemporain. After this, they decide to work together again on Ismene poem by Yannis Ritsos, transformed into an opera for solo voice and created in autumn 2008. This performance won in 2009 the Belgian critics Award and it is performed in several international festivals as Musica in Strasbourg, GMEM in Marseille, Vie in Modena and Festival d’Automne in Paris. In 2013 she is singer, actress and composer for Phedre poem by Yannis Ritsos.