A coproduction of Muziektheater Transparant and Opera Ballet Vlaanderen with Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Folkoperan Stockholm and Nanterre-Amandiers centre dramatique national.

“Claude Debussy never finished his opera La chute. Composer Annelies Van Parys now ‘completes’ it as a dialogue between his musical language and her own. Debussy’s complex vocal style makes it quite a challenge. Debussy focussed his reading of Edgar Allen Poe’s horror story Fall of the House of Usher on the way in which paranoia drives people mad. Writer Gaea Schoeters adapts the unfinished libretto to a contemporary context: fear as a perfect tool for social control.

Roderick Usher, the last male descendant of an extinct family lineage, lives with his twin sister Madeline in the family’s ruinous ancestral home. Roderick, who suffers from an acute physical illness, has called for help from a childhood friend. Roderick’s sister, who is taken care of by a resident doctor, is also ill and suffers from severe physical attacks. More and more Roderick falls into the grip of irrational fears that drive him mad.

In Usher, Debussy’s original, unfinished opera develops into a new and fascinating story about current political developments, which respond to fears and paranoia and, in the name of protection and security, violate people’s personal freedom.

Van Parys previously reworked Debussy’s opera Pelléas et Mélisande into musical theatre. The thriller Private View, after Alfred Hitchcock, was her opera debut. These experiences now culminated in Usher. French director Philippe Quesne, artistic director of the Théâtre des Amandiers in Nanterre, found inspiration in American horror films from the 70s.”