30, October 2012

La Passion de Simone by Saariaho with new live video

La Passion de Simone is an oratorio for solo soprano, choir, orchestra, and electronics by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho.Originally premiered in a stage version directed by Peter Sellars, this oratorio about the life and work of French philosopher Simone Weil, has been developed in a new version for live video by Jean-Baptiste Barriere. This new version premiered at the occasion of the 60th birthday celebration of Kaija Saariaho, offered to her as a surprise gift in Helsinki’s Musikkitalo earlier this month. Dawn Upshaw, for whom the work was written, was the soprano soloist. Esa-Pekka Salonen conducted the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.


Jean-Baptiste Barriere filmed the dancer Gabrielle Lamb, choreographed by Italian director Luca Veggetti, in what is left of the ruins of the gigantic industrial complex of Renault (in which Simone Weil worked), on ile Seguin, on the river Seine, in the west suburb of Paris. He edited and processed these materials, together with archived documents and synthetic images, working, as usual in his visual works, very closely with the structure of the musical score by Saariaho.

In the performance situation, the prepared materials are modified according to the live computer analysis of the concert interpretation of the score, in order to link various musical and visual parameters (for instance vocal and orchestral timbres and colours), in complex relations evolving all over the time span of the piece.


The first performance of La Passion de Simone with visuals premiered in Helsinki’s Musiikkitalo on October 19, 2012. This version was commissioned by the Finish Radio Symphony Orchestra.Kaija Saariaho Composer
Amin Maalouf Librettist
Dawn Upshaw Soprano
Dominique Blanc Narrator
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Esa-Pekka Salonen Conductor
Tapiola Chamber Choir
Hannu Norjanen Conductor
Jean-Baptiste Barriere NEW Visual Part Conception & Direction

Choreography: Luca Veggett
Dancer: Gabrielle Lamb
Cameras: Isabelle Barriere, J.B. Barriere, Alex Barriere
Computer Images realisation: J.B. Barriere & Francois Galard with the help of LE CUBE for studio filming (thanks to Carine Le Malet) & CITU for cameras.

La Passion de Simone (2006) 75 mins
Soprano; SATB chorus; 3(afl,pic)2.2.2(cbn)/4221/timp+3perc/hp.cel/str

La Passion de Simone is a magical union of words, music and theatre: a creation of great beauty and drama…’
Anna Picard, The Independent on Sunday, 15/07/2007