Dai Fujikura: New Opera at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées

Dai Fujikura: New Opera at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées

Dai Fujikura’s first opera Solaris, co-commissioned by Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Opéra de Lille, Opéra de Lausanne, Ircam-Centre Pompidou and Ensemble Intercontemporain, will have its world premiere in Paris on March 5th. The production is directed by Saburo Teshigawara who also wrote the libretto after Stanisław Lem’s famous novel. The multimedia production includes dance, live electronic and videos in 3D.

Do you have any role models when it comes to opera?
Not really. When I was working on Solaris I went to see many operas. These experiences were interesting and inspiring, but my reaction also was that I did not want to follow any role model and create an opera in my very own way.

Why did you choose Solaris?
I love all Tarkovsky movies including Solaris. However, I was more interested in the book on which the movie is based. So my opera refers to the book, not to the film.

I have always liked Solaris. In the past I have written several instrumental works which are influenced by it, like my trombone concerto Vast Ocean and its little brother K’s Ocean for trombone and electronics.

Generally, I don’t even think that Solaris is Science Fiction. It is rather a story about the deepest part of the human psyche, set out of this world in order to focus on the real meaning.

To what extent is Solaris a traditional opera?
My approach was quite direct. The story and all its characters are very dramatic and mysterious, there is also a wide array of emotions, and I composed music according to these emotions. I always enjoy experimenting with the pace of music, so when I actually had the opportunity to write an opera, I wanted to expand this concept.

How did you collaborate with the librettist?
The libretto was written by Saburo Teshigawara, who also is the choreographer and director of the world premiere. I loved the libretto from the moment I first read it. The drama and the “drive” to tell the story are truly powerful. This was very inspiring to me.

Then I translated the libretto from Japanese into English together with my friend, the poet Harry Ross. We carefully looked for the adequate English words, the ones that were most suitable to be set into music.

What can you tell us about the electronics that you developed at Ircam?
I have worked at the Ircam together with Gilbert Nouno for about four months. Before I started Solaris I had a different approach to electronics: I just used what sounded great. Now in this opera the electronic effects serve the purpose to tell the story.

There is something unusual about the role of electronics in Solaris: in the whole opera there are no cues for them! All electronic effects are live processed, and can be used whenever you want to. So this gives a certain element of improvisation to the opera. I do think that this approach is extremely effective. This way the electronic parts give a “wing” to the score. I will perform the electronic part myself in the Paris production, and I will do it differently at each performance.

Solaris Fujikura

Opera is a complex art form. How did you experience the composition process?
I have made the experience that I can’t compose under time pressure. For this reason I always take a lot of time for my projects. I worked one and a half years on Solaris, and I actually can say that it was pure joy. In the end I was even a little bit sad the day I finished composing, because I had to leave this world of Solaris that I have lived in for quite a long time. Now I just want to start composing my second opera right away!

Photos: Vincent Pontet