Karmina Šilec

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Karmina Šilec

Karmina Šilec is a world known conductor, author of music theatre projects and artistic director of Carmina Slovenica and Choregie.

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek
Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek
Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek
Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Fauvel

Production: Theater Basel, premiere 29. 4. 2016

22. 9. 2016
3. 10. 2016
​24. 10. 2016
13. 11. 2016

Vocaltheatre by Karmina Šilec

Music: Lojze Lebič (1934): Fauvel ’86, based on Roman de Fauvel

Fauvel is based on a gothic allegorical verse romance in which the central metaphor for moral decay and decadence is an ambitious horse/ass. The main character – Fauvel – is an incarnation of sin, sin, irrationality, unreliability, dominance, flattery, hedonism, hypocrisy and excesses. The ruling class is despotic and greedy, forgetting about the natural equality of people. Man through politics/the church is a symbol of everything that is wrong with our society and of the system which administers it. This issue fascinates since it judges exploitations in the human society and poses the question if today, after 700 years since texts of Fauvel were written, it is any easier to talk, or do we still whisper.

Photo gallery

Fauvel <em>Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek</em>

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Fauvel <em>Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek</em>

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Fauvel <em>Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek</em>

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Fauvel <em>Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek</em>

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Fauvel <em>Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek</em>

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Fauvel <em>Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek</em>

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Fauvel <em>Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek</em>

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Fauvel <em>Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek</em>

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Fauvel <em>Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek</em>

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Fauvel <em>Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek</em>

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Fauvel <em>Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek</em>

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Fauvel <em>Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek</em>

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Fauvel <em>Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek</em>

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Fauvel <em>Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek</em>

Photo: Dorian Šilec Petek

Fauvel
Fauvel

About the project

Production: Theater Basel, premiere 29. 4. 2016

Vocaltheatre by Karmina Šilec

Music: Lojze Lebič (1934): Fauvel ’86, based on Roman de Fauvel

PERFORMING:
Conductor: Karmina Šilec
Opera Basel mixed choir
Fauvel: Karl-Heinz Brandt
Fortuna: Meike Hartmann
Narrator: Aleš Valič (from tape)

Direction and set: Karmina Šilec
Costumes: Belinda Radulović
Light design: Andrej Hajdinjak
Artistic advisers: Sidra Bell, Marko Japelj, Dorian Š. Petek
Sound:  Danilo Ženko, Cornelius Bohn
Images: Miguel Vallinas

Fauvel mocks human egotism, hedonism, hypocrisy and excesses of the governing classes, a society contaminated by sin and corruption.

"Endless tournament between the good and the evil"

A transparent "curtain" behind which a listener follows the events from the early 14th century, being aware that that is not the "right time" of the action

Fauvel is a symbol of everything that is wrong with our society and of the system which administers it.

Fauvel  poses the question if very today - after 700 years since texts of Roman de Fauvel were written - it is any easier to talk, or do we still whisper?

Fauvel is based on a gothic allegorical verse romance in which the central metaphor for moral decay and decadence is an ambitious horse/ass.

The main character – Fauvel – is an incarnation of sin, sin, irrationality, unreliability, dominance, flattery, hedonism, hypocrisy and excesses.

Flatterie      Flattery
Avarice        Avarice
Uilénie         Vileness
Variété         Variability
Envie            Envy
Lâcheté        Lechery

Fauvel is based on the expanded "animal epic" from the 14th century, an allegorical verse drama with an ambitious horse being the central metaphor for moral decay and decadence. The character of Fauvel mocks human egotism, hedonism, hypocrisy and excesses of ruling classes – of secular as well as church rule. Fauvel draws a satirical picture of the gothic Middle Ages and is a barely veiled criticism of social climbing, false publicity and mostly ambition. Man through politics/the church is a symbol of everything that is wrong with our society and the system which administers it.

Endless tournament between the good and the evil works as a signpost to the past, as a transparent "curtain" behind which a listener follows the events from the early 14th century, being aware that that is not the "right time" of the action.

Fauvel resonates with all his intensity and colour, as he did originally, several centuries ago. He is comically and tragically serious, scatological and devout, formally daring and populist. Medieval texts in Fauvel, which sprang to life in literary and philosophical "underground", in the language of medieval social criticism, "praise" fraud and madness, and move into the satirical supervision of devout but at the same time superstitious abuse by the church, political doctrine and corruption - fundamental issues between politics and society. This issue fascinates us since it judges exploitations in human society and poses the question if today, after 700 years, it is any easier to talk or do we still whisper.

MORE ABOUT

The work derives from the French allegoric verse romance which revolves around a horse (or ass) and was composed as a counterpoint to heroic poems written by clerks at the French court: Gervais du Bus, Raoul Chaillau du Pesstain and the famous pioneer of Ars Nova, the composer Philippe de Vitry, in the beginning of the 14th century, and preserved in various manuscripts under the title Roman de Fauvel. Roman de Fauvel is one of the earliest music scenic works and it has, due to its complexity, an important place in the history of music, literature as well as visual art. With the hybrid half-man half-ass in the title role, Roman de Fauvel represents a rich "Gesamtkunstwerk" of texts, visual representation and music.

The work portrays the main character, an ambitious horse named Fauvel. The name of this anti-hero is double: it means a ‘false veil’ and is at the same time an acrostic of six major vices:

Flatterie        Flattery
Avarice          Avarice
Uiléni             Vileness
Variété           Variability
Envie              Envy
Lâcheté          Lechery

Fauvel gains prominence on the French court due to the "strange spinning of Fortuna's wheel". Fauvel's absurd climb to the position of the king reflects how God's order is turned upside down when men allow animals to rule: evil is allowed to rule while the good is forced to suffer.

Images about the "world upside down", in which people and animals swap roles and relationships, came to life in the Middle Ages (not to take into account parallels from the Antiquity). An animal as a figure of the "inhuman" Other is often present in literature (Bestiaries) and serves the purpose of moralizing. The theological and philosophical construction of the character of the "animal/bestie" points to the exclusive access of human beings to common sense. Interesting is the choice of the animal – the ass who is itself a parody, that is of a horse, the symbol of knighthood. Fauvel is an incarnation of sins, irrationality, unreliability, ambition, flattery (roman gave birth also to the English expression "curry fauvel", or "curry favor" – to seek to gain favour by flattery).

Fauvel is a personification of evil and tyranny, of a society contaminated with sin and corruption. The ruling class is despotic and greedy, and it forgot about the natural equality between people. Fauvel has – as an allegorical incarnation of pure evil – a universal background since he fights against Fortuna, the Daughter of God.  

This adorable story about the masterful fraudster, portrayed according to the medieval allegoric mind, is a distant formal and contextual background of Lebič’s Fauvel. There are three levels of sound action: the archaic level with music language corresponding to that at the beginning of the 14th century, on the turn from Ars Antiqua to Ars Nova; it involves the form types of the time: monodic and polyphone singing, and the music dictus of the time; the level of drama narration, the distance of which is indicated by the use of loudspeakers from which voices of the "protagonists" are heard; the reflective level which is the focus of the composer’s attention; on this level psychological states created by the emphases from the narration are being transmitted in a musically radical form by means of contemporary composition. The use of various languages hints at the timeless aspects of the story about universal human insufficiency and weakness.

Fauvel is an ironic mocking figure from times past, tangled in an ancient battle between the good and the evil, or with the words of Milan Jesih from the central scene: "From dark and bright side we are created: kneaded from lies and truth…".

L. Stefanija (in Satire in Music) wrote the following about the Lebič’s music: "Sound action of Lebič’s "endless tournament between the good and the evil" works as a signpost to the past, as a transparent "curtain" behind which a listener follows the events from the early 14th century, being aware that that is not the "right time" of the action. The addressee of Fauvel is man’s ancient – eternal – companion: a personal characteristic, that impersonal one, without an address – at home in everyone’s house.

THE STORY:

Book 1
The first book is a rebuke against the clergy and society tainted by sin and corruption. The governing class is despotic and greedy and forgets about the natural equality between people. All segments of the society are corrupt and the end of the world is without doubt nearing. Fauvel, though he is a horse, no longer resides in a stable, but is set up in a grand house, a royal palace, by the grace of Dame Fortune, the goddess of Fate, as a reflection of lack of Common Sense. He changes his residence to suit his needs, and has a custom manger and hayrack built. Everything around him, from furniture to animal frescoes, is glamorous, but false and a result of fraud. On his court people from all levels of society stroke him to make sure "no dung can remain on him". Church and secular leaders far and wide make pilgrimages to see him, and bow to him in servitude. These potentates brush and clean Fauvel from his head to tail. The influence of Fauvel on the Church is disastrous, its God’s given superiority is surrendered because of corruption. Secular power has lost its compass just as well. It is despotic and greedy. On the peak of his triumph Fauvel has about fifty allegorical characters around him (Carnal Lust, Envy, Laziness, Vanity, Fraud, Hypocrisy, Sodomy, and others). But Fauvel is still worried how he can remain in power. After Fortuna granted him such an ascent, things could turn upside down. So he decides to marry Fortuna. Thus he could influence his wheel of fortune.

Book 2
Fauvel travels with his courtiers to Macrocosmos and asks Dame Fortune for her hand in marriage. Fortuna is a woman of both – beauty and ugliness – she masters two wheels which determine the whole of humanity. One of her escorts is also Lady Vainglory whose nature distracts those who climb higher, so they don’t see their almost certain fall. Fauvel declares love to his "loved one", but she denies him. Fauvel keeps courting, without success. In the meantime Fortuna talks about her work, about the relationship to God and Wisdom, about her two crowns and wheels, and about the roles of Envy, Truth and Injustice. She talks about human necessity to accept what fate brings, about the contrast between Nature and Fauvel. About the difference between the Macrocosmos (World) and the Microcosmos (Man), and foretells the inevitable end of Fauvel. In the end Dame Fortuna reveals that Fauvel’s role is to give birth to an even more twisted ruler than himself and labels him as the herald of Antichrist. But Fauvel keeps begging and declaring his love. Fortuna doesn’t want to dismiss him empty-handed and proposes he wed Lady Vainglory in her stead. Fauvel is happy. All his courtiers and Lady Vainglory return to his marvellous and festive city of Esperanza (Paris). The guests at the wedding are Flirting, Adultery, Carnal Lust, Hypocrisy, Infidelity, Venus and many other followers of Fauvel. This crowd floods the city and the court, everyone is thrilled at Lady Vainglory’s charm and at the promise of a tournament.

Guests at the wedding are also Humility, Immaculateness, Remorse and other sisters Virtues. However not to participate in festivities, but rather to throw Fauvel from power. After dinner there is music and dancing (Bachanal), and preparations for the tournament where Fauvel celebrates an unfair victory over the Virtues. Everyone is celebrating, just the Virtues wonder how anyone can sing in such circumstances. In the streets in the meantime a wild ritual charivari is on which moves into the court as well. Lady Vainglory and Fauvel retreat into their unholy matrimonial bed. 

The next morning horrible dark forces start to gather, but a miracle is happening in the dwelling of Virtues: singing angles encourage the Virtues. The Virtues ride armed to the battlefield where heavenly light shines on them and Archangel Gabriel offers them holy bread and wine. 

The battle between Virtues and Sins begins. The first ones to fight are Innocence and Carnal Lust. Innocence wins. The battle continues and the Virtues win. Truth sends Fauvel and Lady Vainglory off the battlefield. The Virtues return to good people who offered them roof over their heads in Esperanza and they are warmly welcomed there. Fauvel goes back home with Lady Vainglory where they keep making small "Fauvels".  Heresy bathes Fauvel’s family in the fountain of youth. At this point the author of the book expresses concern about the damage that Fauvel brought about and addresses it first to Fortuna, then Virgin Mary, and even God. During celebration of the victory Fortuna foretells that Fauvel will fall at some point in the future. The author realizes that Fauvel will pay for his deeds and closes the book. It’s time for a drink!

Video

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Press

... Karmina Šilec’s choral opera Fauvel is a really interesting, multilayered and a very aesthetic work...

... captivating beauty... 

... veritable Theaterspektakel with immense beautiful images...

... Fauvel is like a bulky work of art in a museum that refreshes, encourages us to think, distresses and embraces at the same time. And that is the reason why it continuously invites the viewer to new observations – if one only allows it... 
Basellandshaftlische Zeitung

... It was a great success, the premiere of the choir opera "Fauvel" ...
Aargauer Zeitung

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