The new production by the director Alain Platel and composer Fabrizio Cassol, who together made the outstanding vsprs (2006), is based on Bach’s Matthew Passion. This masterpiece transforms the story of Christ’s Passion into sublime music. Erbarme dich is one of the best-known arias in the Matthew Passion, and this is one of the foundations for the music and content of pitié!.
Does our ability to sympathise extend beyond pity? Compassion is a tainted word and is often associated with condescension. But isn’t it something we intensely yearn for when we find life and death too onerous? But the Matthew Passion is primarily about the individual’s ultimate sacrifice: himself. At the present time it seems absurd to ask for what or whom one would be prepared to sacrifice one’s life. But it is nevertheless the one Platel wants to ask the dancers with whom he intends to work on the ‘bastard’ dance form so much his own. Building on the experience gained from vsprs, this dance form seeks a physical translation of over-intense emotions and aspires to something that transcends the individual.