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the diary of the one who disappeared

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duration 1:15
premiere 11 Mar 2017


The diary of the one who disappeared is a coproduction with Muziektheater Transparant from Antwerp. We previously collaborated with them for Kings of war.


It is 1917 when Czech composer Leoš Janáček (1854-1928) meets Kamila Stösslová, who is almost forty years younger than him, in a health resort. She is married and has two children. This does not prevent Janáček from falling deeply in love with her. The relationship remains platonic, but he will remain obsessed with her until his death, with more than 700 ardent letters to prove it. Kamila inspires him to write some of his most important operas, such as Katya Kabanová and The Makropulos Affair.

A year earlier, Janáček read an anonymous series of poems in a newspaper about Janik, a village boy who falls madly in love with a gypsy girl and leaves everything behind to follow her. The composer sees his feelings for Kamila reflected in the poems. Based on the poems, he writes a series of songs that can be best described as an intimate self-portrait. Will Janik’s desire for passion free him from his suffocating surroundings? Or is he wasting his entire existence on an illusion?

The form of the work is unique: a series of 22 songs for tenor and piano, with an addition of three songs in the middle for a small choir of women and a mezzosoprano representing the gypsy girl Zefka. Ivo van Hove directs top singers Ed Lyon and Marie Hamard, and TA actor Hugo Koolschijn. Fascinated by voices, Belgian composer Annelies Van Parys writes an answer to this touching love story.


Ivo van Hove about The diary of the one who disappeared

‘The diary of the one who disappeared is less well-known than the large operas by Janáček, but is definitely not inferior. The power of this short work lies in a twofold vitality. Firstly, there is the series of short, ruggedly poetic poems, with a lowbrow and confident tone. Then there is the passionate infatuation of Janáček with the very young Kamila Stösslová, which causes the work to be permeated with a desperate and scorching desire for the impossible, for a new beginning.’


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