Haiku opera

Snow is an abstract and meditative narrative about the fragility of life, love, self-sacrifice, and secret desires. Translations of poems of the minimalist haiku genre, written by the prominent Japanese poets of the 18–19th centuries captured attention with their unusual syntax aesthetics and became the starting-point for the play. (Butterfly in a Snow: haiku, translated by V. Dumčius, Kaunas: Gaivata, 1999)

The opera also adopts a short extract from the novel Snow by Maxence Fermine. The whole action is contracted into a single scene, where the main character of the novel, young poet Juko Akita, sees a woman, a tightrope walker, who is frozen in ice.

The opera Snow is composed of 12 haikus – a dozen autonomous opera acts, each of which has been written in different tunes by moving along the circle of quarts and quints (C, F, B etc.).

An extract from the novel Snow by Maxence Fermine:

“She was walking on air. <…> Not even once did she trip. <…> But the tightrope broke. No doubt it was poorly tightened, so it loosened and, falling from the height of at least one thousand feet, took the young woman and the balancing pole with it. As they watched Snow disappear in the midst of the Japanese Alps, people took her for a bird diving down from the sky. No-one ever found her body, which was devoured by the mountain gap. Snow turned into snow and slept all covered in white. <…> She was there. Someone as beautiful, naked, bright and fragile as snow. She was dead. Still, she looked alive. <…> She was not entirely naked, <…> but the clothes of the tightrope walker had been in ice for so long that the cloth was almost transparent.”

Aesthetics of the performance strongly remind of the works of American genius Robert Wilson – we are witnessing similar extension of time, subtlety of movement and strictness of costumes. Wandering through the world of ice there is a woman in modern kimono, the forms of which draw a silhouette of a butterfly frozen in the snow. Entire minimalist performance is like a single moment; perhaps it is the moment when the heart stops beating.

Laūra Karnavičiūtė, Muzikos barai