The video oratorio PARADISO for soprano, tenor,
sampler, female choir and orchestra was premiered September 12,13 and 14 2001 in
Groningen and is now worldwide released on DVD and CD /SACD by CHANDOS
soprano Claron McFadden as Beatrice, tenor Tom Allen as Dante Alighieri, with Karel
Gerritsma on the sampler. Videos by PULSATU, the female choir of the North Netherlands
Concert Choir perform 'the heavenly angels', and the North Netherlands Orchestra
was conducted by Alexander Liebreich .
Paradiso is a journey in search of beauty and harmony, of ecstasy and bliss, in which music and images are 'heavenly' in the literal sense of the word: a full-length video performance based on Dante's Divine Comedy.
Jacob ter Veldhuis is fed up with the 'doom and damnation' that he sees in so much contemporary art. Ter Veldhuis: "I decided to really dig in my heels against this trend. Since the second half of the 20th century art has become consistently more conceptual and hostile. Modern artists sometimes remind me of orthodox preachers, whose sole desire is to hammer into us how depraved the world is. Art is supposedly able to transform suffering into beauty. But what is beauty? The lust for dissonance in contemporary music is hardly what I would call 'aesthetically pleasing'; dissonance has, in my opinion, been totally devalued as a manner of expression."
"It's partly due to this aversion that I've been composing more and more melodiously in recent years. I developed my colour pallet of light blue, pink and orange because of the limitless potential for expression that this combination offers. I spice my music with sugar."
"I'm moved by the tragedy of human shortcomings and the suffering this can bring about. But instead of commenting on it with tormented, cynical sounds, I prefer to sublimate that suffering by striving for crystal-clear, unearthly and perfect musical beauty that can arouse passion and ecstasy. To quote Rilke, 'beauty is the terrifying beginning, that we can only just manage to bear, and that we admire so much because it stoically refuses to abandon us.'" [R.M. Rilke: Erste Duineser Elegie]
"The idea arose to write a large-scale multimedia work along these lines, not only as a statement in regard to modernism, but primarily from a primitive need for Utopian beauty and harmony. 'Paradis' means literally 'enclosed space' in ancient Greek. The human spirit strives to 'feel good' and to avoid pain. Paradise is an age-old human invention, an imaginary world where death and pain donít exist. Itís a permanent state of ecstasy. The third book of the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, 'Paradiso', was an ideal source of inspiration for me."
On their journey to paradise, Dante and his beloved, Beatrice, visit the Earthly Paradise, the Garden of Eden, the heaven of Love and Sex, the heaven of Religion and the heaven of Drugs and Nirvana. Among those they meet along the way are thunderstruck Apollo astronauts, passionate American television evangelists and the heavily drugged-out jazz trumpeter Chet Baker. Finally they enter the ultimate, the Imperium, the heaven of Light, where thousands of angels sing for eternity around Godís throne...
PULSATU is a Vjay team consisting of Floris and Jaap Drupsteen and Jörgen Langedijk. Graphic designer Jaap Drupsteen is regarded as the 'godfather' of Dutch video art. He is known for his innovative music-television programmes and as the designer of a series of Dutch banknotes. Both Floris and Jörgen started as industrial designers, who have become true multi-media wizzards.
Ter Veldhuis: "Although itís possible to perform Paradiso in concert form, the images and the music are of completely equal importance."
translation by Jonathan Reeder