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Usher – a psychological thriller about friendship, paranoia and corrosive family ties, based on the short story by Edgar Allan Poe.

The unfinished opera USHER by Claude Debussy has now been completed by Belgian composer Annelies Van Parys. It was commissioned by Folkoperan and Staatsoper unter den Linden in Berlin, where it premiered on October 12th. The production will open at Folkoperan with a Swedish cast on February 14th, 2019. For the libretto she worked together with the Belgian writer Gaea Schoeters who made a clever reworking on the existing material and completed the rest of the story, focussing more on the political aspect of fear as a tool to control people.

USHER staged by Philippe Quesne, takes us to a dilapidated house reminiscent of many high profile horror films from the 1980’s. We are invited to an orchestrated chamber piece in a house over which a curse has been cast. It is home to sister and brother Madeline and Roderick, the last surviving members of the former powerful Usher family, completely isolated from the surrounding area. Paralysed by an inexplicable fear, they fight for their survival. The question is what does this fear and terror consist of, and who gains from the fear of never leaving the House of Usher? 

©Mats Bäcker

– Folkoperan is absolutely thrilled to present this new work by Annelies van Parys and Claude Debussy to Swedish audiences. With its world of shimmering, colourful and transparent notes, van Parys is a contemporary heir to Debussy while at the same time contributing with her own clear voice, says Marit Strindlund.

On stage at Folkoperan are Rickard Söderberg as the Doctor, Ola Eliasson as Roderick Usher, Alexandra Büchel as Madeline Usher and Olle Persson as the Friend. The production is directed by Philippe Quesne, artistic director at Nanterre-Amandiers Centre Dramatique Nationale. Musical direction is by Marit Strindlund, musical director/principal conductor at Folkoperan.

“… a thrilling new opera… There’s a touch of Hitchcock and a lot of David Lynch in the visual aesthetic… Marit Strindlund conducts with a combination of coherence, order and sensuality that matches the score perfectly…”/Financial Times

©Mats Bäcker

“The result is fantastic… Everything is simply right in this production: the songs, the claustrophobic notes from the orchestra, the bleak set design and the special effects with smoke and lightning strikes that reinforce the fall of the house on many levels…”/Der Tagesspiegel 

Belgian composer Annelies van Parys, who has worked with Folkoperan’s Marit Strindlund on a number of projects, is behind the reworking and completion of Debussy’s horror opera Usher. As Folkoperan does not have the resources to commission an opera on its own, the idea of a co-production was presented to Staatsoper Berlin, that is celebrating a year of Debussy in 2018, and where the production opened in Berlin on October 12th, 2018. The production will then tour Belgium, The Netherlands and France.

Annelies van Parys (born 1975) is one of the most well-established young composers in Europe with commissions from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Belgian National Orchestra, for example. Her musical theatre works have been played by Deutsche Oper and the Flemish National Opera. French composer Claude Debussy (1862–1918) represents the transition from Late-Romantic compositions to modern 20th Century music. Edgar Allan Poe, who is often called the father of the science fiction genre, is said to have been Debussy’s favourite author.

USHER has its Swedish première at Folkoperan on February 14th, 2019 and will run until March 10th. The production will then tour Belgium, The Netherlands and France.

A co-production between Folkoperan, Staatsoper unter den Linden in Berlin, Muziektheater Transparant (Belgium), Opera Vlaanderen (Belgium) and Nanterre - Amandiers centre dramatique national (France). 

©Mats Bäcker

Swedish premiere: February 14, 2019
Until March 10, 2019

L'AMI Olle Persson
LADY MADELINE Alexandra Büchel
LE MEDECIN Rickard Söderberg
ORCHESTRA KammarensembleN

MUSIC Claude Debussy/Annelies Van Parys
LIBRETTO Claude Debussy/Gaea Schoeters (based on "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe)

CONDUCTORS Marit Strindlund/Michael Bartosch
SOUND DESIGN Annelies Van Parys/Roel Das
DRAMATURGY Magnus Lindman/Roman Reeger


©Mats Bäcker -
represented by Tallieu Art Office - -
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