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Director and artistic director: Michal Grover Friedlander

Stage design: Eli Friedlander

Music: Hadas Pe’ery, Sireen Elias, Barbara Strozzi

Story excerpt: Omer Friedlander, Memory excerpt: Ryo Takenoshita

Creators/Performers: Ryo Takenoshita (performer), Taum Karni (conducter), Doron Schleifer (Countertenor), Rona Shrira (Contralto), Noam Sharet (Flute), Inbar Sharet (Clarinet), Neta Maimon (Cello), Ziv Kaplan (Percussion)


Dramaturgical Advice: Jelena Novak

Noga Chelouche: Editor and Translator of program booklet 

Layla Hallaq: Translator for program booklet

Studio Bank, 2019


Director's Note


Project Limbo an Opera is, in several ways, about memory, as

well as about the inability to remember. I always felt, even when

I was younger, that I cannot remember things, most things. It is

an odd feeling, as if my past is unavailable to me, and for that

reason, neither is my present.

Limbo is about ways of evaluating one’s life through

remembering and memory. The meaning of life crystalizing

around one meaningful memory (offered in the film After Life);

the inability to remember (prose fragment by Omer Friedlander)

the duality of mourning death and celebrating life, both part of

the same ceremony (Jazz funeral march); an in between language

and music in which breathing comes to suggest a primary

elemental zone of being (Hebrew Lessons by Pe’ery); constant

search for that which is ever-changing, by the time we understand

a structure, its rhythm, melody and texture—it has already transformed (Samai’e by Sireen Elias). Limbo an Opera evokes memories of the medium of opera, the

passing away of opera, its voices, their memories-- as evoked

in Fellini’s And the ship sails on…. and in the vocal timbre of

a counter tenor. Limbo brings back bits and pieces, a sound, a

movement, an idea, a prop from a performance’s past: Doron

Schleifer’s voice, Ryo Takenoshita’s gesture, Eli Friedlander’s

design, an umbrella…

In Limbo we work through ‘crossings’ or ‘meetings’ of memory

and the end of life. Hirokazu Kore-Eda film After Life is about

an opportunity to choose what you carry with you unto eternity.

The catch is that one can choose only a single memory from

An entire life, all the rest vanishes and is forgotten. In the film,

the memories selected by the dead are staged, screened, and

“entered into”. What is so moving about Kore-Eda’s film, is

that the dead’s choices predominantly consist of memories of

sensations-- smell, sound, tactility—all quite challenging for

film to portray. Those unable to select a memory, remain in an

between zone, a way station assisting others with their choices.

If limbo is to be in a state caught in between stages, or in an

intermediate undetermined place--at loss-- then our memories

are in a state of limbo, as we ourselves are.

Kore-Eda’s After Life suggests the value of life in choosing

one memory. In Nietzsche’s thought of the eternal return, one

relives them all, remaining forever in the life one led: "This life

as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once

more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing

new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and

sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will

have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence -

even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even

this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is

turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of

dust!" (The Gay Science, s.341)

Omer Friedlander’s prose fragment for Limbo, concerns not

being able to remember, the strain to unearth a life lost to you:

“Remembering is excavating and my fingers plough the earth,

layer after layer, searching for the beating heart buried on a

mountain, surrounded by olive trees and limestone jutting out

like teeth. Instead, I dig up the leftovers, the rubbery grey of the

liver, the bleached root columns of the spine. Where is it? I can

feel it. It is waiting underground, like a cicada, for seven years.

The sky is the color of wet cement and I am stuck in amber, floating in formaldehyde, trapped in limbo.”

Each of the scenes in Limbo an Opera, is an attempt at

remembering, each a different take on memory’s fleeing

manifestation. This is the reason why the scenes are unlike one

another, diverse in their sound sight texture and movement.

None can be the memory, as that does not exist. Each scene is a

venture towards retrieving, recollecting; each a renewed invention

of our many selves, worlds, surroundings, assigned meanings,

unavailable emotions.

In each new opera project I direct, I find myself taking more

risks, more liberties, placing more at stake. In Socrate, our last

project, a piece of music by Erik Satie is transformed and made

into an opera; Limbo assembles ‘worlds’ in an attempt to suggest

what opera can become.

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