August 2003

What is 'Ion'?

A short interview with Param Vir

Partner Leserbrief/readers comment Druckversion/printversion

What is 'Ion'?

A short interview with Param Vir

Von Nancy Chapple

Param Vir

What is so very special about this new translation of Euripides' Ion?
When I read David Lam's translation when it came out in 1994, I was very moved by the poetry and intensity of the language. We worked together closely to create a libretto. I took over verbatim as many of the beautiful speeches as I could. Actually, one can use only very little text in an opera - so I had to cut it down to about 1/3.

And what did you find so special about this story?
The message of love. A quality of wisdom or compassion that seems to me like an incredible heart beating through the work.

You say your music is inspired by colors - can you explain that idea a bit?
Well, are you familiar with the idea of chakra, the concentric energy circles in rainbow colors that permeate the human body from the bottom of the spine to the crown of the head? I am a firm believer in this idea. And do you know the works of Anish Kahpoor? I would like to compose music that captures certain properties they exude. I tend to see music before I hear it, and I also draw template drawings of the music's energy. Though it would be too narrow to take my score and say, "ah, this is a green passage, and this is more orange", certain colors were very important for me in composing this work: gold, silver, white, cobalt blue.

Are you composing solely operas these days, or also instrumental works?
There is so much violence in today's world; we need a real teaching of peace. And in opera I can work with important themes, and treat several different political subjects in one work. Ion's finest truths are about one man and his mother, about the light of self-knowledge. With opera I can reach many more people with these important messages.

I understand the work was incomplete at the premiere in 2000?
Yes, I've completed it - for now. That meant writing choruses, completing endings. It takes so very long to tie up all the loose ends.

And the performances in Berlin make up part of a European series?
Yes, they're rehearsing in Cardiff, premiering in Strasbourg, then proceeding to Covent Garden later in the month and finally touring throughout England. Quite a lot of people will get to see this production.