Zad Moultaka

19-20 APR 2019
Main Stage
An artist from Lebanon and seven musicians from Greece and Italy grapple with the “Epic of Gilgamesh”, a text older than Homeric poetry. Sumerian King Gilgamesh fights the dark side of himself. An opera for eight musicians and video.
The Gilgamesh Epic is one of the oldest surviving texts in the history of humanity. Its provenance remains unknown despite abundant theorizing. The expressive austerity and the way it descends into the deepest abyss of existence calls to mind the Aeschylean tragedies – it is no accident that the previous work of the composer of this remarkable opera was based on ŠamaŠ, the mesopotamian god of the sun.

Lebanese composer Zad Moultaka chose to give Gilgamesh a voice through Mezwej, a musical ensemble made up of influential musicians from Greece, the Middle East and Italy. Singers are absent from this opera, voices and speech emanate by the musicians themselves. They are the mirror of our own inner voices, our personal heroes. The video transforms their shadows into strange, autonomous figures.


Ensembles Mezwej / Direction: Zad Moultaka
Sokratis Sinopoulos: lyra
Evgenios Voulgaris: yali tanbur
Harris Lambrakis: ney
Stefanos Dorbarakis: kanun
Vangelis Pashalidis: santuri
Claudio Bettinelli: percussions
Andreas Linos & Christina Plubeau : viols (viola da gamba)
Co-production: Onassis Stegi, LLa Cité musicale-Metz, Mezwej / association art moderne with the support of DRAC Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur

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For his Gilgamesh opera, Zad Moultaka chooses musicians from the Mediterranean basin that represent the countries of origin of all the epics of antiquity: from Homeric Greece to the Italy and Virgil’s Aeneid.
Vangelis Paschalidis’ santur, an ancient instrument, weaves together many Near East traditions, Harris Lambrakis’ ney and Evgenios Voulgaris’ yaylı tambur denote the Orient, while Stefanos Dorbarakis’ kanun represents Greek tradition.  Sokratis Sinopoulos’ Constantinople lyre spans the banks of Bosporus, while Andreas Linos’, Christina Plubeau's violas da gamba and Claudio Bettinelli’s drums define the western borders. Their music and physical presence, not the human voice, will tell us the story of Gilgamesh.

Gilgamesh was the king of Uruk, a Sumerian city on the banks of the Euphrates; he was two thirds god and one third human.

The epic tells us the story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, his wild adversary, created by the gods to keep him from oppressing the people of Uruk. But Enkidu eventually becomes Gilgamesh’s ally. They take a six-day trip to cut down the Holy Cedar and kill its guardian, Humbaba the Terrible. As a result, the gods kill Enkidu. In the second part of the work, Gilgamesh, devastated by his friend’s death, seeks the secret of eternal life.

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