A great artistic ceremony to re-release ‘Le martyre de Saint Sébastien’ by La Fura in Valladolid

Published 07/02/2019

20 years after its premiere, La Fura dels Baus stage again Le martyre de Saint Sébastien, the cantata composed by Claude Debussy seven years before his death. The company recreates this staging on the choral scene and it will be performed on the 8th, 9th and 10th of February. It will be at the Teatro Calderón in Valladolid. Tickets can already be purchased through this link.

La Fura dels Baus second attempt at opera is a staging of Le martyre de Saint Sébastien. As with La Atlántida, this cantata is not a conventional opera, or at least it is not an opera with a clear, perfectly defined story line. Using Claude Debussy’s music as an inspiration, Gabrielle d’Annunzio constructed a Symbolist drama around the original medieval mystery and the well-known image of the saint pierced with arrows. As a Symbolist work, D’Annuzio’s libretto offers as many readings as suggestive images, and a richness eventually translated into the first problem that the staging had to overcome. There was no solid plot structure, nor characters on which to base a sufficiently formulated theatre piece. Therefore, the first decision made in regard to Le martyre de Saint Sébastien was the creation of a parallel dramaturgy, capable of supporting the interpretation put forward by Carlus Padrissa and Àlex Ollé staging.

Debussy and D’Annunzio divided their “musical/symbolic mystery” in five parts or stanzas that thematically relate to Sebastian’s evolution. Five parts without any links, that end up shaping the entire story of the soldier who becomes a saint. In the staging by La Fura a new character is added, a narrator, represented as a doctor, whose job, both figuratively and literally, is to dissect Sebastian in order to, with a scientist’s logic, discern what it is that makes him so special, so different and yet so the same. Most of the “stanzas” are kept, but a great innovation is added: the last part, which portrays Sebastian’s arrival in heaven, now opens the performance. This substantial change is an attempt to delay without resolution the foreseeable happy ending, reinforcing the contradiction that the saint incarnates, and gaining symmetry by associating Sebastian’s death with the autopsy that begins the show, a sort of spiritual flashback.

Debussy and D’Annunzio divided their “musical/symbolic mystery” in five parts or stanzas that thematically relate to Sebastian’s evolution. Five parts without any links, that end up shaping the entire story of the soldier who becomes a saint. In the staging by La Fura a new character is added, a narrator, represented as a doctor, whose job, both.