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Stabat Mater

(2009)
Line Tjørnhøj
Soprano and mezzo soli, double bass, electronics and video projection
Solo(s) + 2-8 instr
45:00
2009
C.1002
A4, 12 pages

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The chamber opera Stabat Mater tells the story of the 16-year-old Iranian Atefah Sahaaleh, who was publicly hanged on 15 August 2004 for ”acts contrary to chastity”. Tjørnhøj narrates this inhumane episode with soprano and mezzosoprano voices singing in English, Latin and a little Hebrew, accom­panied by cello and manipulated electronics and visualized on a video projection. ”Vocally and musically the two female characters occupy a central position and when they dominate the stage the music acquires the feeling of a lovely but sad ballad. The singing is accompanied entirely simply by a double-bass player. However, the female double-bassist has more than an accompanying function: in some passages she plays, shouts and sings, but in a modernistic and exploratory fashion that provokes the listener while avoiding tonal centres of any kind” (Århus Stiftstidende November 2009, Ole Straarup). The film cuts between various situations: silhouettes of birds hovering over landscapes, beautiful emergent patterns, a naked torso striking itself. The piece communicates a feeling of sorrow and distress but nevertheless of hope.

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