8: Metamorphosis is an impressive dance-opera about a patriarchal structure that will not yield.

from: De Volkskrant, Annette Embrechts, 26 mei 2019

8: Metamorphosis is an impressive dance-opera about a patriarchal structure that will not yield
(5 out of 5-star review, Volkskrant NL)

Thrilling is the descending lightgrid, that hold the performers captive.

The drum kit has a lot to endure. Even before 8: Metamorphosis commences, Frank Rosaly lashes it with forks, feet, bells and nails. Astonishing energy erupts from this fanatical percussion. The kit lasts until halfway. Then it concedes to the assault and loses its form under the pulling force of eight performers (seven dancer/vocalists, plus the drummer who joins them). It is exactly the intention in this remarkable dance-opera, for which choreographer Nicole Beutler and composer Gary Shepherd found inspiration in the work of renowned graphic artist M.C. Escher, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and The Cold Song from Henry Purcell’s opera King Arthur. Change comes after breach, transition after the meltdown of systems.

Seven dancers appear, smart-suited, seven shades of gray. They move in linear patterns in various phases: reclined, rolling, stepping, crouching. When Rosaly joins them they slowly build up to the (manipulated) staccato sounds of The Cold Song in beautifully harmonized chants. In the original libretto, a ghost of winter refuses to melt and make way for spring. In this dance-opera it is patriarchal structure that refuses to make way and relent. Awe-inspiring is the descending lightgrid, like a work of Escher come to life, that spreads out over the dancers and holds them captive. Just as in Escher’s transitioning black-white and gray patterns, the repetitive simplicity achieves a spellbinding effect: lighting designer Minna Tiikkainen lights the grid (a pullied system that also lifts props) from the loft. The audience is on the stage, together with the performers.
Then, the turning point. Suits come off, bright souls emerge. Water vapor ascends. We look upon an empty house. A stumbling polar bear lays down to rest peacefully. We can change, if we want to, if we dare. Just like these creators.