Nonesuch Records releases Louis Andriessen's Grawemeyer Award-winning La Commedia on June 9. The film opera, a collaboration with director Hal Hartley, is based on Dante's Divine Comedy, with additional texts from the 16th-century German theologian Sebastian Brant, the 17th-century Dutch dramatist Joost van den Vondel, and the Old Testament's "Song of Songs”. This Dutch National Opera production features the Asko and Schönberg Ensembles, led by Reinbert de Leeuw, with vocal soloists Claron McFadden (Beatrice), Cristina Zavalloni (Dante), Jeroen Willems (Lucifer/Cacciaguida), and Marcel Beekman (Casella). The children's choral parts are sung by Waterland's Kinderkoor De Kickers, conducted by Jan Maarten Koeman.
In the composer's words, "The simultaneous existence of heaven, purgatory, and hell; parallels between various scenes; and the use of film and stage effects all create the complexity that is necessary to do justice to Dante's greatest creation. To this end, all events portrayed on the film screen and on stage, including dance, the spoken word, and song, should be regarded as a reaction to the music."
Dutch composer Louis Andriessen's music has explored politics, time, velocity, matter, and mortality in five works for large ensemble: De Staat (Nonesuch, 1991), De Tijd (Nonesuch, 1993), De Snelheid, De Materie (Nonesuch, 1996), and Trilogy of The Last Day. In addition to La Commedia, his stage works include the operas Writing to Vermeer (Nonesuch, 2006) and Rosa: The Death of a Composer (Nonesuch, 2000), as well as the monodrama Anaïs Nin. Nonesuch also released an album with his De Stijl and M Is for Man, Music, Mozart in 1994.
Hal Hartley is an American independent filmmaker (writer, director, producer, and composer) active since 1989. His films include Trust (1990, winner best screenplay Sundance Film Festival), Henry Fool (1998, winner best screenplay Cannes Film Festival), and Meanwhile (2010). He has written and staged his play Soon at the Salzburg Festspiele in Austria (1998) and in America (2001). His association with Louis Andriessen began with the short film The New Math(s) in 1999. Hartley has just completed shooting his 13th feature film, Ned Rifle. He lives in New York.