Hans Werner Henze’s “The Raft of the Medusa” is directly inspired by Théodore Géricault’s famous painting. The German composer sets to music the fate of 150 people who have been shipwrecked and abandoned to their destiny. This is a radical work that fluctuates between hope and inevitability, agony and sudden bursts of life.
The Raft of the Medusa is an oratorio that was first performed in 1968. Fifty years on, the Italian director Romeo Castellucci underscores its immense modernity, drawing a striking parallel between Hans Werner Henze’s work and the current migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.
In a staging that combines opera, theatre and video, Romeo Castellucci reclaims the imagery of the media to challenge the audience – which he does not hesitate to rail at and make an integral part of the performance. Here, the audience almost becomes an actor. The choir – the Chorus of the Dutch National Opera and Cappella Amsterdam – also plays a key role in The Raft of the Medusa: it embodies an anonymous mass left to extreme abandonment.
This production, presented as part of the Opera Forward Festival, festures singers Lenneke Ruiten (Death), Bo Skovhus (Jean-Charles) and Dale Duesing (Charon). Ingo Metzmacher directs the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra.
The opera was filmed on 26 March 2018, at the Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam.