I spent much of the first eight months 2020 composing Grenspaal 369 (Landmark 369), a semi-opera about a couple whose life is shaken by the unexpected arrival of a boat refugee. So three characters, one of which sings her role and two are 'just' acting (although they do sing the commentary 'choirs' together). Even if not everything is sung, there is non-stop music in a line-up of 2 percussionists, piano and saxophone.
The opera (with a libretto by Don Duyns and directed by Vincent van de Elshout) was to premiere in August 2020 during the Zeeland Nazomer Festival.
Covid- 19 came in between and now, a year later on August 24, the piece will be premiered.
About surviving, staying or leaving
About surviving, staying or leaving. To flee. Offer help or send away. About the eternal struggle between good and evil. Love. Don Duyns holds up a mirror to Western society and exposes the bankruptcy of this world.
A young woman, a boat refugee who wants to cross the North Sea to England, gets stuck in the mouth of the Zwin, the
conservancy area that forms the natural border between the Netherlands and Belgium. She is found by a woman who wants to help. “Whoever saves one person, saves mankind” is her motto. She brings the drowning woman home. Her husband, who daily supervises border post 369, believes that borders are there to be guarded and takes a principled stand against the stranger.
PZC, August 25, 2021
.....That sudden turn, and the music, those are the actual dramatic highlights of this musical theatre. That unexpected outcome - apart from all the clichés of good or bad, as it should always be - is a clever intervention. A truly sobering surprise. It encourages us to think very deeply about when and how we can actually still be original and credible. Not so often maybe? And then the music. Because that has not yet been discussed, but the entire performance is embedded in a composition by Douwe Eisenga. A reasonable part of the lyrics is also sung, by the actors, sometimes assisted by a small 'choir'. Beautifully sung. There is something evocative and compelling about that music. The result of a melodic line with a syncopated rhythm underneath. Piano and saxophone versus percussion. In a genius way the music has the same duality as that in the safety of the cliché and the restlessness of reality...... (Willem Nijssen)
Volkskrant, August 26, 2021
....The varied, high-contrast music by composer Douwe Eisenga, full of melancholy winds and fierce percussion, drives the performance energetically forward, and keeps the spectator fascinated for five quarters of an hour....(Henriek Wensink)
trailer & Tickets
Grenspaal 369 will be performed from August 23 (avant-premiere) until September 4.
For more information and tickets go to the site of Zeeland Nazomer Festival
composition | Douwe Eisenga
libretto | Don Duyns
direction | Vincent van den Elshout
actors | Maike Boerdam, Nienke Nasserian en Koen Van Impe
musicians | Niels Meliefste, Steven van Gool, Erik-Jan de With en Baue Kunstman
stage-design & light | Danny Cobbaut
costumes | Véronique Hendriks
lichting design | Marcel Visser
production | Theaterproductiehuis Zeelandia