Infinite Now

Premiere by the composer Chaya Czernowin

On the Brink

Infinite Now: Certainly an enigmatic and mysterious title, but that, in reality, says much about this atypical staged work. The third opera by Chaya Czernowin is not an opera like others, quite the contrary. It would be futile to search for traditional story lines, bel canto and other alternating recitative/aria/vocal ensemble. However, we find all the lyricism, the necessary narrative tension, the poetry, and emotion all favorably presented.

Here the scene painted is not that of a world in miniature, but the interior of a soul/brain/skull. In this context, the music’s role is not to simply highlight the drama and emotion: it becomes a vector of the action, like a stream of conciseness that endures and reacts to different thoughts, feelings, and events with which it is confronted.

In terms of emotion, it is, above all, the anxiety of an imminent catastrophe. Here, two catastrophes haunt this skull. Luk Perceval (librettist and director) weaves together three texts, spanning époques and frontiers: the letters of soldiers, excerpts from All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, and novel by Can Xue, a Chinese author often compared to Kafka and Borges. On one hand, we find the true hell that is the First World War, and on the other, dreams and fantasy, the impossibility of moving forward despite the knowledge that remaining immobile is death sentence.

"These texts are written as metaphors for the obstacles that life lays on our road", says Chaya Czernowin. "It is the poetic vision of how we relate to our political reality and how we cope with the trace of  History with a big H, that i hope the music will bring to the piece. Knowing that whatever happens,  life continues,  vitality continues.  Actually, despite the appearances, the piece is deeply optimistic.


Here, electronics are a tool for creating sound poetry.

This is expressed through the numerous sound sequences recorded, realized by the composer and Carlo Laurenzi, scattered throughout the work: the work of a goldsmith, assembling sounds and noises sometimes incredibly faint, almost inaudible-whispers, brushstrokes, scratching-surface from an obscure silence.

The principle was to transform the theater into the inside of a head; spatialization is a large part of the work in order to create a poetic-psychological shock, to awaken the audience’s conscience to certain aspects of the music and context of the texts.

Past Experiences at IRCAM

Winter Songs I: Pending Light (2003) for ensemble and electronics
HIDDEN (2014) for string quartet and electronics with Carlo Laurenzi, this was the opportunity to develop a common vocabulary.



Chaya Czernowin

Composer (born in 1957)
Chaya Czernowin   is a composer whose have been played worldwide. She was composer in residence in Salzburg festival, and Lucerne Festival,  She is Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of Music at Harvard University and ...

Related Event

Création française de la version concert de l'opéra Infinite Now de Chaya Czernowin à retrouver dans la programmation du festival ManiFeste-2017.

Programmation en ligne à partir d'avril 2017