Blown Off Course, an opera by Pedro Rebelo with libretto by Glenn Patterson

Blown Off Course explores relationships between Portugal and Japan through language, music and food. Since the Portuguese arrived in Japan in the 16th Century, as the first Europeans to encounter Japan’s rich and fascinating culture, multiple exchanges began and continue to this day.

This chamber opera recounts the chance meeting of Hanna, a Japanese woman and Valentim, a Portuguese man, in both the 16th Century and today. These encounters are a result of a ship (16th Century) and a plane (today) blown off course by the force of the wind (the narrator). Six centuries apart, these interactions develop relationships through the exchange of sounds, words and food traditions. The wind is a presence prompting seemingly chance events and orchestrated action. Musically, the work feeds from Japanese musical traditions such as Kabuki theatre, Gagaku and Zen Shakuhachi flute music, coming together with Portuguese sources from the 16th and 17th Century.

The opera is scored for Soprano, Baritone, Narrator, Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Piano, Percussion, Shakuhachi, Electronics, 2 Channel Video and a chef. Commissioned by Music Music Portugal, with the support from Queen’s University Belfast

Performances 12-13-14 January 2023, Oculto da Ajuda, Lisboa: live stream.

Review by Pedro Boleo (in Portuguese)

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