Julia Holter to score the passion of Joan of arc for Opera North

Opera North has commissioned the Los Angeles singer-songwriter, composer and producer Julia Holter to create an ambitious new soundtrack for the revelatory 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Joined by the Leeds-based company’s 36-strong Chorus and her own three-piece band, Holter will premiere her new score at Leeds Town Hall on 24 June 2020, with a further performance at the Barbican, London on 27 June.

Over the course of five studio albums Holter has pushed her experiments with vocals, songwriting and musical structures into astonishing and beautiful new territories. In scoring Carl Theodor Dreyer’s visionary telling of the martyrdom of the French saint, she finds an immense sonic tapestry at her fingertips, and an opportunity to dig deeper into her longstanding fascination with the art, history and music of the medieval era.

The outer reaches of cinema have also exerted a strong pull on her, and she has acknowledged the influence of the films of Alain Resnais, Andrei Tarkovsky, Lars von Trier and even the Technicolor MGM confections of Vincente Minelli on her atmospheric, enigmatic writing.

The new score for Joan of Arc grows out of a 2017 live soundtrack that Holter performed with the film in LA, increased exponentially in scale, palette and possibilities. It promises to bring together the breathtaking, emotionally-charged soundworld of one of today’s most remarkable musical artists with the intense, expressionistic universe of a landmark of early cinema.

Driven to the brink of collapse by Dreyer’s uncompromising direction, Renée Jeanne Falconetti gives a transcendent performance in the lead role, sometimes framed by the strange angles of the specially constructed set, but more often with her gaunt face shown in lingering close-up. The critic Pauline Kael wrote that Falconetti’s portrayal “may be the finest performance ever recorded on film”. It has influenced everyone from Jean-Luc Godard to Miami Vice and Heat director Michael Mann, who called it “Human experience conveyed purely from the visualisation of the human face: no one else has composed and realised human beings quite like Dreyer in The Passion of Joan of Arc.”

Julia Holter comments:
“I’m honoured to be working with the Chorus of Opera North to perform my score to Carl Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc. I’ll be adapting a couple of relevant medieval chants for the ensemble, to take the melodies to a wild place that reflects the rapture and trauma of Falconetti’s Joan, with the help of bells, organ, and other instruments.”

Tickets go on sale for Howard Assembly Room bookers and Opera North supporters, and Barbican Friends, at 10am on Wednesday 18 September, and on general sale on Friday 20 September. For more details and to book, visit operanorth.co.uk

Commissioned and produced by Opera North Projects. Co-produced by the Barbican and the Brudenell Social Club.

 

Opera North: FILMusic

The Passion of Joan of Arc is the latest in Opera North’s series of soundtrack commissions, the most recent of which was a widely-acclaimed new score by Circuit des Yeux’s Haley Fohr for a more profane icon of the Roaring Twenties, Alla Nazimova’s Salomé. Other commissions include new scores for the Louise Brooks classic Pandora’s Box by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, Hildur Gudnadóttir and Philip Jeck, Carl Dreyer’s pioneering horror Vampyr and Maya Deren’s surrealist reverie Meshes of the Afternoon by German pianist Hauschka, and a gamelan soundtrack for Lotte Reiniger’s fantasy animation The Adventures of Prince Achmed.

On Saturday 23 November 2019 another of the company’s soundtrack commissions, the re-scoring of the seminal Soviet film Battleship Potemkin by Norwegian musician Jan Bang and Matt Calvert of Three Trapped Tigers, will be reprised at Kings Place, London for EFG London Jazz Festival.

 

 

 LISTINGS

Wednesday 24 June 2020, 7.30pm
Julia Holter: The Passion of Joan of Arc
+ support
dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer. France 1928, 88 mins. Cert PG.

World premiere of the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter, composer and producer’s new soundtrack for Carl Theodor Dreyer’s visionary 1928 silent film, scored for the 36-strong Chorus of Opera North with Holter and her band.
The breathtaking, emotionally-charged soundworld of one of today’s most remarkable artists meets the intensely expressionistic universe of a landmark of early cinema.

Commissioned and produced by Opera North Projects. Co-produced by the Barbican and the Brudenell Social Club.

Leeds Town Hall, The Headrow, Leeds LS1 3AD

Tickets: £20.00, concessions available
Box Office: 0113 2233600
Online: operanorth.co.uk

 

 

Saturday 27 June 2020, 7.30pm
Julia Holter: The Passion of Joan of Arc
dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer. France 1928, 88 mins. Cert PG.

The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter, composer and producer’s new soundtrack for Carl Theodor Dreyer’s visionary 1928 silent film, scored for the 36-strong Chorus of Opera North with Holter and her band.
The breathtaking, emotionally-charged soundworld of one of today’s most remarkable artists meets the intensely expressionistic universe of a landmark of early cinema.

Commissioned and produced by Opera North Projects. Co-produced by the Barbican and the Brudenell Social Club.

Barbican Hall, The Barbican Silk St, Barbican, London EC2Y 8DS

Tickets: £17.50 – £25.00
Box Office: 020 7638 8891
Online: barbican.org.uk

Location: