Usually performed as a choral concert work, the Requiem has been transformed into a fully staged opera by controversial Italian director Romeo Castellucci, with additional passages from Mozart and Gregorian chants selected by musical collaborator Raphael Pichon.
Adelaide Festival artistic directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy have just returned from the Festival International d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence where they said the production’s debut earlier this month was met with “rapturous audience responses”.
“There is no other piece in music history that invites us to ponder life quite as poignantly as Mozart’s Requiem,” said Armfield.
Mildura-born Australian soprano Siobhan Stagg, one of four international soloists in the work, said many people at the French performances appeared “deeply moved” by the production.
“It appeals not only to the purist music lovers but also to those people who love to see beautiful pictures and drama unfolding on stage,” Stagg said from her home in Berlin.
Castellucci, who previously staged Julius Caesar at the Adelaide Festival in 2000 and Go Down, Moses in 2016, said he enjoyed breaking fixed ideas of what a work should be.
“So for me, the most interesting way for an audience to approach Mozart is as if they’re experiencing it with new eyes and new ears and in a way re-examining his music for the first time,” he said.
“Requiem is a celebration, a festival, an opera and a dance which is full of joy.”
Joining the production in Adelaide will be performers from Australian Dance Theatre.
ADT artistic director Garry Stewart said it was a “rare delight to see dance incorporated into an opera”.
“It is particularly exciting as a company when you are part of a show which takes a traditional form and creates something entirely new,” Stewart said.
Requiem is the first of three major operatic productions to be co-produced and co-commissioned by Adelaide Festival and Aix-en-Provence from 2020-22.
Mozart’s Requiem will be at the Festival Theatre from February 28 to March 4 March. The full Adelaide Festival program will be announced October 16.
Priority tickets for Friends of the Adelaide Festival go on sale at noon today, July 25. General public tickets go on sale at 9am on August 8 at adelaidefestival.com.au or BASS.