Skip to main content

Commission to Eva Reiter

Ictus, Brussels (BE)

“Who can say what the world is? The world is in flux, therefore unreadable, the winds shifting, the great plates invisibly shifting and changing.” – Louise Glück, Averno

Eva Reiter (composition) and Michiel Vandevelde (choreography) present an experimental opera with sign language for the deaf, dance and a whole range of instruments specially developed for the occasion. In their work, composer Eva Reiter and choreographer Michiel Vandevelde focus on the coexistence and exchange of different worlds that unfold one after the other on stage. It is the process of translation that leads to the emergence of such new worlds. Through the translation and re-contextualisation of symbols, signs, gestures and sounds, new languages are created that ultimately change the perspective on a particular world.

At the centre of the piece is Ruben Grandits, a young deaf performer who is the only one – although not hearing – able to convey the story to the audience. His hands are equipped with sensors so that his movements are translated directly into sounds. His gestures, when he speaks to the audience, serve as the basis for the world of sounds and movements. Conversely, the music is translated back into visual signs, making the piece accessible to the deaf. The Rise focuses on echoes and mediation. It illustrates forms of communication in which mediation cannot and should not be avoided. The opera is based on the poetry of Nobel Prize winner Louise Glück. Her publication Averno in particular serves as the main material for the libretto. Averno, a crater lake in Italy, was regarded as the gateway to the underworld. In her poems, Glück connects and alternates between the two worlds of the living and the dead, returning from one to the other. The surface of the lake acts as a permeable membrane or passageway into the world beyond, evoking images of life and death, the eternal and the profane.

Throughout the opera, no traditional musical instruments can be seen or heard, only newly constructed, self-developed ones, which form the basis of the score and the stage design. All instruments were developed with the aim of translating movement directly into sound. Some of these instruments are operated collectively. The ensemble consists of four dancers, five musicians, two singers and the narrator. Together, they also form a choir, which takes on a decisive function in their collective work and increasingly sees itself as a new community.

The commission to Eva Reiter for Ictus is made possible by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation.

Further information:


September 20 and 21, 2024
Center Pompidou, Paris

October 1 and 2, 2024
Festival Musica Strasbourg

March 26, 2025
Concertgebouw, Bruges

March 29 and 30, 2025
Klarafestival, Brussels