Discover in preview the teaser of our future DVD Judith by clicking here
"a magical and spellbinding performance"
La Croix Magazine, 27 March 2012
"A performance of pure concentrated beauty"
Res Musica, 2 April 2012
"the performance emphasises the frail figure of this bright soul destined for a great future",
Le Monde, 29 March 2012
study with dialogos
The biblical story of Judith, a Bethulian widow who kills the enemy Holofernes to liberate her people, became a cornerstone of medieval Croatian literature, set in verses by Marko Marulić, Dalmatian poet of the 16th century. Written in Croatian, in the way of old traditional Glagolitic poets, this story is one of the few texts that Marulić wrote in his mother tongue, probably intended for a female audience which generally wasn’t familiar with the Latin language.
Judith is a pious Hebrew woman, but she is also a beautiful and dangerous enchantress who infiltrates the palace of the Assyrian enemy, seduces the powerful general Holofernes and beheads him. The Agony of Judith tells this cruel story of Eros and Thanatos in an intimate and very intriguing way, using fragments of medieval disputationes from the Glagolitic tradition (also known as "agonies"), which alternate with the main story. These interpolated episodes allow us to leave the main action for a moment and hear what is happening inside the characters’ minds: just as Holofernes’ head separates from his body, his thoughts also "separate" into a very lucid dialogue between his body and his soul which happens in the moment of drunken sleep, before his death. A different inner dialogue - between Judith’s mind and her soul - occurs in the head of the heroine as she prays to God to help her kill the enemy who is in love with her.
Musically, this project is a reconstruction, using Gregorian, Beneventan and Glagolitic sources of medieval Dalmatia, as well as the study of Glagolitic chant in oral tradition. The text of Judith survives without music but its metrical structure corresponds to a small number of archaic Glagolitic melodies used for storytelling in medieval Dalmatia, often in the context of the highly emotional and dramatic songs related to the Passion or rituals of the Holy Week. The text itself also refers to texts sung in the liturgical offices, so the task of reconstruction was to find, in related musical sources (Dalmatian and southern Italian), melodies corresponding to the suggestions of the original text.
In this research, it was necessary to study the most archaic layers of what is called Glagolitic chant. This liturgical repertoire, sung in the local vernacular tongue (Croatian Church Slavonic) while actually belonging to the Roman rite, was preserved in manuscripts written in the Glagolitic alphabet, used in medieval Croatia. Written sources mention the existence of this chant in Dalmatia as early as the 11th century, within the circles of clergymen who didn’t speak Latin. Yet, the particularity of the Glagolitic repertoire, passed on orally, is its survival up to the present day in a few locations along the Croatian coast, on the Dalmatian islands and in Istria.
In this musical monodrama, Judith & Holofernes, with all the personified demons inhabiting the inner world of their minds, are performed by a female voice playing several roles and using a wide spectrum of vocal nuances, a fiddle, a lirica (Croatian traditional stringed instrument tuned in a particular archaic manner) and archaic flutes. They build together a story which unfolds in growing emotional density, transposing this ancient tale, with its powerful and nostalgic Dalmatian melodies, into an intriguing theatrical context.
Staging, scenography and costumes: Sanda Herzic
Lighting design and direction: Marie Bellot
Philological advisor: Bratislav Lucin
Norbert Rodenkirchen - transverse flutes (Neidhart Bousset, Boaz Berney), traditional warpipe from Lombardy (anonymous), dvojnice (Stjepan Veckovic)
Albrecht Maurer - fiddle (Thilo Viehrig), lirica (Zlatko Glavinic)
Thanks to Gesine Moritz, fashion designer (Cologne)
This project can be performed with video subtitles if the space and technical conditions allow it. 1h 10min without intermission.
In coproduction with the Centre Culturel de Rencontre d'Ambronay and Arcadi (Action Régionale pour la création artistique et la diffusion en Île-de-France).
Excerpts from the DVD "Judith", filmed in September 2010 in the Church of St. Donat (Zadar, Croatia), in coproduction with the Croatian National Television. Release planned for 2012.
Excerpts of the program's premiere in Royaumont Abbey and interview with Katarina Livljanić, by Christophe Cornubert. Courtesy of Fondation Royaumont.
Katarina Livljanic, in this demanding project, transforms this one hour long piece of musical theatre into a complete and total experience which one can follow very intensively in one breath.
19 October 2013, 8 pm
Les Dominicains de Haute Alsace, France
7 November 2013, 8 pm
De Bijloke, Gent, Belgium
15 December 2013, 5 pm
Forum Alte Musik Köln, Germany
From 22nd to 25th of January
Workshops with primary and secondary pupils from Gonesse (Val-d'Oise). Exploration of medieval culture and practice of liturgical chant.
From 17th of Januay to 2nd of February
Workshop with secondary pupils from Viarmes (Val-d'Oise), concluded by a show. Discovery of Paris cultural richness in the Middle-Ages.
14th and 15th of February, 2.30 pm
Auditorium de Coulanges, Gonesse
Program « Barlaam & Josaphat », concerts intended to youngsters
15th of February, 8.30 pm
Auditorium de Coulanges, Gonesse
Before the « Barlaam & Josaphat » concert, the non-professional choir of Gonesse will present some pieces it worked with two singers of Dialogos.