Songs for a Passerby
A VR opera about our tenuous relationship with the transitory nature of reality
How does one relate to a world of things that are passing? Are we a part of it? Or are we just looking at it? And what about the body – is it something that we are or that we have?
There is an ambivalence here that prompts the question: could this be the origin of all melancholy?
In Songs for a Passerby you will autonomously walk through a musical dreamscape shown in a VR headset. You are following your own 3D mirror image and on the way you will pass by various scenes: a dying horse, a choir of murmuring people, two playing dogs.
Songs for a Passerby is a meditative quest that allows you to step outside reality for a moment and look at yourself. As a puppeteer of your own body you will be entering a poetic space where the melancholy question arises: is this me passing by moments, or is it rather the moments passing by me?
Director Celine Daemen: "By placing spectators outside themselves and showing them the contours of their own 'self' through capture with live 3D cameras, I aim to create an experience that touches on a familiar sense of melancholy, wherein we are no longer at one with the world, but in some ways are opposite to it. As the poet Reiner Maria Rilke wrote: "Dieses heißt Schicksal: gegenüber sein und nichts als das und immer gegenüber". ("This is what fate means: to be opposite, and to be that and nothing else, opposite, forever.")
In Songs for a Passerby I have attempted to create an experience that investigates the connection between the physical and the metaphysical world. You are both a body that is moving through space and a mind that is looking at it. While the unavoidable passing of time makes itself manifest to you, all past moments will remain present, entering into a simultaneous existence. You are both in the world and simultaneously outside it."
In 2023 Songs for a Passerby won the Venice Immersive Grand Prize at the Venice Film Festival
Direction Celine Daemen — VR art direction Aron Fels — Music & sound composition Asa Horvitz — Libretto Olivier Herter — Sound & mix Wouter Snoei
In co-production with: Studio Nergens, VIA ZUID and Muziekgebouw Productiehuis
Developed with the financial support of The Performing Arts Fund NL, the Netherlands Film Fund and Creative Industries Fund NL
Nadia Amin, Vincent van den Berg, Hans Croiset, Sterre Konijn, Misja Nolet, Carl Refos, Michaela Riener, Eleonora Schrickx, Georgi Sztojanov, Garbo, Micha, Raffie, Rey
Production Nicky Groot — Development Sjoerd van Acker — Design physical space Carlijn Veurink — 3D art Bats Bronsveld, Eline Oppewal — Model Design Lisanne Hoogerwerf — Photogrammetry art Dajo Brinkman, Tommy Jansen — Child casting & child wrangling Luca Meisters (Sproet Casting) — Horse training & horse wrangling Chandrika Brevet (Asvayan Stables) — Technical advise Cerezo Boldewijn — Graphic design: Lise Buyneel — Poster image and stills Aron Fels, Bowie Verschuuren
In Songs for a Passerby you can hear fragments of songs written by Hildegarde von Bingen and echoes of melodies (including the song “O u Poli, Drevo”) sung by the esteemed Ensemble Drevo (tradition) of village Kryachkivka, Poltava, Ukraine – Slava.
SILBERSEE — Producer
Artistic LeaderRomain Bischoff — Creative Producer Dominique Slegers — Coach dramaturgy en communication Jan Van den Bossche— Sales Jimmy-Pierre de Graaf — Sustainability Manager Stella van Himbergen
Studio Nergens — Co-producer
by Celine Daemen
VIA ZUID — Co-producer
Director Ton Driessen — Artistic LeaderJoost Segers — Networker, connector Linda Becker
Thanks to coaches Romain Bischoff (mentor), Jan Van den Bossche (dramaturgy and communication), Guido Jansen (dramaturgy), Yannis Kyriakides (music), Ravian van den Hil (context), Elke Müller (philosophy), Toffey (marketing), Roelof Terpstra (technology), Ezra Bredius (business), Katrien Sitters (business), Imke Muriël van Herk (PR)
Thanks to Jackie Smeets, Elsa Domingos Cristovao en Joost Schrickx, Leon Brevet Evi Moeremans, Rafael Wisniewski, Leslie De Pauw, Elvire Schoeters , Scott Gibbons
Songs for a Passerby previously featured on:
29.08 > 09.09.2023 INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA
20.09 > 30.09.2023 DUTCH PREMIERE MUZIEKGEBOUW AAN ‘T IJ, AMSTERDAM
28.11 > 03.12.2023 DE DOELEN, ROTTERDAM
Read what was written in the media: