Simone Weil, the French philosopher who refused to be treated for tuberculosis and died in 1943, is the subject of Kaija Saariaho’s La Passion de Simone. She didn’t want to be served any better than her suffering contemporaries. In her extreme altruism Weil is often compared to Christ, and Passion also builds on a series of stations reminiscent of the Stations of the Cross.
The music closely follows the libretto, subtly depicting the sighs, war, factory noises and especially light and gravity – two forces that rule the universe, according to Weil. Saariaho’s compelling textures – at times gossamer and at others raw and heavy – feel almost predestined to couple with Weil’s thoughts.
The first-class performance does justice to this masterpiece. It is a passion for our time that still is “the kingdom of deceit where the innocent tremble”.
KAIJA SAARIAHO: La Passion de Simone
Dawn Upshaw (soprano)
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Tapiola Chamber Choir
cond. Esa-Pekka Salonen
Ondine ODE 1217-5
The In Focus Kaija Saariaho event, taking place in early March 2019, brings to Tampere Hall two concerts built around Saariaho’s music, free public events and artist meetings as well as cooperation with educational institutions. La Passion de Simone will feature the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra and musical theatre company La Chambre aux echos from Paris. The soloist for the performance is soprano Sayuri Araida and the actress is Isabelle Seleskovitch.