‘Le Pulle: Opérette amorale’ by Emma Pulle (Théâtre du Ront Point, 11 April 2009)
‘House of the Sleeping Beauties’ by Kris Defoort and Guy Cassiers (De Munt/La Monnaie, 15 May 2009)
At first glance, these works have a lot in common. Both treat supposedly risqué subject matter, in one case male prostitution, in the other a brothel where old men can spend the night beside beautiful young women who have been put to sleep artificially.
Both operas incorporate dance and physical theatre alongside traditional theatrical and operatic conventions.
And both have an episodic structure exploiting memory to present intimate details from the lives of their protagonists. These are the characteristics that make them ‘contemporary’.
However, the texture of these operas could not be more different. ‘House of the Sleeping Beauties’ is gentle and cinematic (especially in its score), a meditation on old age and death. ‘Le Pulle’ is energetic and raw – even angry – and sets out to shock. In my opinion it fails to shock, but it succeeds in grabbing the attention of the audience. And the stories that it tells, while somewhat predictible, are touching and give one plenty of food for thought!