DECADENCE AND DECAY
A Neo-Futuristic-Baroque-Trash Opera
Øystein Elle (Norway)
Jill Sigman/jillsigmanthinkdance (NYC)
DJ Joro Boro (NYC)
Corentin J. M. Leven (France/Norway)
Despite how unimaginably cruel torture it was, the castrati have traditionally been seen as mythical creatures and objects of unattainable beauty. The starting point for “Decadence and Decay” is the physicality of 18th century bodies. We merge opera, dance, performance and a night out.
By exploring freakish, destroyed, diseased, and decadent bodies, we comment on historical and present manifestations of decadence and decay. By illuminating the beauty in ugliness, madness, devastation, pollution, sickness and affliction, this piece performs an inverted warning. Elegantly and extravagantly staging filth and crudeness, we are an indirect political voice, pointing at society’s tendencies, yet seductively engaging viewers with our raucous elegance. Musically we mix ornamentation of the baroque period with noise, hard rocking beats, post punk, avant-garde and contemporary music, drawing upon diverse virtuosities.
In17th century Europe, any city with self-respect would have had an opera-house. Opera was big business, and the biggest stars were the castrato singers. Despite, or perhaps precisely because everyone knew what they had sacrificed, castratos were elevated to superhuman status as gender ambiguous angels attractive to both men and women. The immense popularity the castratos experienced drove parents to trust establishments where the operations were performed. Annually, thousands of young boys were tortured in the service of their parents’ hope that their son would be the next superstar who would shed luster on the family and ensure wealth. However, most of these children died and most of the survivors faced a life of misery without any acceptance by the community.