Portrait: Pascal Dusapin

A French composer in Brussels

What brings together violinist Renaud Capuçon, organist Olivier Latry, the Danel Quartet, the Belgian National Orchestra and La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra? Answer: BOZAR’s tribute to French composer Pascal Dusapin. It is an obvious choice to highlight the work of this gifted musician, who has distinguished himself in every genre – with solo, chamber, symphony, and vocal works – and has developed a long-standing relationship with Belgium and La Monnaie.

© Jerome Bonnet Modds
© Jerome Bonnet Modds
Pascal Dusapin and Belgium in 5 works

1. Attacca, for two trumpets and cymbals

In 1991, Pascal Dusapin composed Attacca to celebrate the nomination of brilliant Belgian musician Bernard Foccroulle at the head of La Monnaie. The work was created for his inauguration in 1992. “The inauguration event at La Monnaie started in the afternoon with a world premiere by Pascal Dusapin, Attacca for two trumpets and cymbals, that seemed to mark the three knocks for the curtain to be raised.” (Le Soir, 1992). 

Pascal Dusapin: Attacca (1991)

2. Medeamaterial

In 1992, La Monnaie produced for the first time a new opera by Pascal Dusapin. Medeamaterial recalls the myth of Medea, who, betrayed by Jason for whom she had sacrificed everything, takes revenge by killing their children – a  topic that resonated in the composer’s mind, in echo of the war devastating Yugoslavia at the time.

Listen to Pascal Dusapin talking about how his work came to life at La Monnaie.

© Sebastian Bolesch
© Sebastian Bolesch

3. Uncut, solo n° 7 for orchestra

Created in 2009 by the Liège Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Uncut is the last of a cycle of orchestra “solos”, commissioned from the composer together with other European institutions such as Ars Musica or La Cité de la musique in Paris.

Pascal DUSAPIN= Uncut

4. Penthesilea

For his new opera ordered by La Monnaie, Pascal Dusapin once again draws from ancient myths – this time the Heinrich von Kleist version of the myth of Penthesilea – mirrors of the great paradoxes of human nature. Penthesilea, Queen of the Amazons, is torn between her love for Achilles and the ancient tradition by which Amazon women can only take as lovers men they have defeated. Penthesilea or, as Pascal Dusapin put it, “love and the problem of the law”, was created by La Monnaie in 2015.

5. Macbeth Underworld

In the last opera to date to have been commissioned by La Monnaie, Pascal Dusapin turns to Shakespeare and the Macbeth couple, embodied by Georg Nigl and Magdalena Kožená, whose downfall is caused by their violent ambition. The “Underwoods” before their time? Listen to what the author – the French composer, not the American president in House of Cards – has to say.

Macbeth 𝘜𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥 | Teaser

See also