L’Esprit du Feu: Introduction

Operatic work in Tahitian language, by Geoffroy Colson, libretto by Gabriel Cavallo.
Non-Traditional Research Output.

L’Esprit du Feu: Te Vārua o te Auahi is a creative operatic work aiming at embodying the potential sustainability of indigenous Pacific Islands cultures within a changing environment. The project delivers a highly creative artwork combining operatic singing with French Polynesian traditional music. It attempts to explore viable recontextualisations of musical heritage into contemporary creative outcomes, in developing new collaborative approaches to composing and performing indigenous musical repertoires through the employment of Western-derived musical languages. To date, no significant transnational syncretic creation involving intercultural synthesis at compositional and performative levels has been produced, involving traditional music of this part of the Pacific.

The work combines a musical language inspired by the works of renowned composers of the twentieth century, textures derived from contemporary jazz, and elements from musical, choral, theatrical, choreographic, and oratory traditions of French Polynesia. These elements include the power of traditional percussion and songs, ancestral poetry and oratory art (ʻōrero), and traditional dance (ʻori tahiti). L’Esprit du Feu: Te Vārua o te Auahi is an intercultural, contemporary operatic music informed by fieldwork observation, interviews, performance participation, and musical analyses.

As the acclaimed premiere of the first act in the Grand Palais, Paris, has shown, L’Esprit du Feu: Te Vārua o te Auahi  has the potential to attract a wide range of audiences, including people passionate about opera, the international academic community, the Polynesian communities, and people interested in contemporary innovative creation.

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