Two women from Antiquity at the centre of Steingrimur Rohloff’s operatic works with librettos by Peter Laugesen
New album presents music by Steingrimur Rohloff and libretto by Peter Laugesen, recorded by Norwegian mezzo-soprano Tuva Semmingsen and Esbjerg Ensemble.
The classical figures of Medea and Lysistrata have captivated creative artists for centuries. The latest of them is Icelandic-German composer Steingrímur Rohloff, who on a new album is paired with one of Denmark’s great poets, Peter Laugesen. Together they've created works, centered around the two Antique female figures, sung by the Norwegian mezzo soprano Tuva Semmingsen accompanied by Esbjerg Ensemble, who Rohloff has collaborated with for decades.
Long-lasting collaboration with Peter Laugesen
The two main works on the album are Five Songs by Medea (2019) and Lysistrata (2015-16) – both with librettos by the Danish poet Peter Laugesen, with whom Steingrimur Rohloff has collaborated for more than a decade, Rohloff relates:
‘I loved his poems immediately and still do, whether Laugesen is being beautiful or dirty or realistic, there is a punch in the language which draws me to my own extremities’.
Two female figures from Antiquity
The starting point for Five Songs by Medea is the female figure of Medea, as described by Euripides – abandoned by her lover, Jason, whom she had helped to victory in war, and on whom she had decided to seek a cruel revenge. In Laugesen’s poems, magic and mystery are added to the myth, and the five songs each focus on a particular aspect of Medea’s character, where melody and text lead the music from the top down but the ensemble plummeting and swirling in reflection.
Also in Rohloff and Laugesen’s opera Lysistrata based on Aristophanes, there is a female figure from Antiquity who is centre stage. In the recording one hears an excerpt comprising the overture and five arias from the opera, where Tuva Semmingsen is in the title role as the sensual woman who tries to incite her fellow-sisters to make a peaceful revolt by denying their husbands sexual intercourse with them.
About Steingrimur Rohloff
Steingrimur Rohloff (b. 1971) was born in Reykjavík to Icelandic and German parents, and has lived in Denmark since 2003. He studied composition with Krzysztof Meyer at the Conservatory in Cologne and later with Marc-André Dalbavie and Gerard Griséy at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris, which led him to courses at IRCAM.