on: rehearsals for “La Passion de Simone”, Tischlerei, Deutsche Oper, Berlin, 23-24th November 2015

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“La Passion de Simone”, a musical journey in 15 stations, evoking Simone Weil, was staged by Peter Sellars at the Deutsche Opera’s Tischlerei, end of November. I had the chance to watch two of the rehearsals.

Soprano: Julia Bullock; Choir: Rundfunkchors Berlin (Isabelle Voßkühler, Christine Lichtenberg Alt, Jan Remmers Tenor, Wolfram Teßmer Bass); Orchestra: Orchester-Akademie der Berliner Philharmoniker; Conductor: Duncan Ward; Director assistant: Michael Schumacher

A thank you to Peter Sellars and Betsy Ayer.

1. Rehearsals- 23th of November

The first detail that caught my eye:

1.Director touching the stage

Fully equipped:

2.assistant with scissors

Hands on chest, away from the chair’s backrest, Peter Sellars immerses in his work:

3.Off chair

His position never changes:

4.Degrees of involvement

Portrait in portrait- up on stage, soprano Julia Bullock with a Simone Weil book cover:


On of the many gestures of her character:

6.Prerequisites of a revolutionary pose

The four singers choir, seen from above the chest, placed like a small text with unconventional spacing:

7.Choir in profile

The team’s photographer, “machine gunning” snap shots, contributing with sound to music:

8.bMusic and photo snap

At one point, the conductor walks away from orchestra, to hear it better:

8.conductor away

Down to essentials:

9.Book on stage

Being taken care of, at the end of the rehearsal, the only prop- a luminescent “gate”:

10.fixing a corner

2. Rehearsals- 23th of November

Next day, at noon, orchestra rehearsal.

The conductor:


Suggesting his ideas by means of onomatopoeia:



13.Conductor covering one ear

Postural choir:

14.Choir reaching out

Two ways of doing percussion:

15.Drumming fingers on score


High under Tischlerei’s ceiling, something that could have been a bat:


Coming to an end:

18.On off

A final check on the luminous gate:


Coming back in the evening- ready for the final rehearsal. One of the assistants:

20.Tiny behind stage

Camera operator, checking on his device:

21.Flashlight into camera

I joined the team up in the control room- to see all the hard and software that manage the lights, the gate, the projected German subtitles.

A practical measure:

22.Bag over lamp


duck on gear

The final rehearsals begin:



Glittering in the dark, the beauty of software:

26.software beauty

The one taking care of the captions, annotating on the musical score:

27.Notite pe partitura


28.Director at the balcony

I noticed, at one moment, the clock built into the control desk:

29.In presence of time

The staging, an algorithm of fluorescence and gestures:

30.lights and gestures

With the lights on, at the end of rehearsals, Mr. Sellars:

31.Putting back the beads

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