Orpheus, inversely. The man returns from the dead to his wife and his mother, who have mourned and arranged their lives to a life without him. His death is with him. When one of the women's love for Orpheus is strong and powerful enough, Death will withdraw and let the man live. The wife elaborately declares her love for him, the troublesome struggle for a common ground, her desire to merge the partners' dissimilarities into a partnership. The mother is only able to say a few of words: "I don't know what this is / a love that must be spoken." To her, with each transition from one phase in life to the next – from baby to child, from child to youth, from youth to adult – the son has died. In the end, she offers to die so her son can live.
Orpheus is an old subject for the opera, the Baroque era in particular produced numerous libretti and compositions. The concept of a sacrifice that humans make for one another runs like a thread through the dramas and novels of the French author Marie N'Diaye, who moved to live in Berlin after Sarkozy came to power. For the Catalan composer Hèctor Parra, who lives in Paris and had previously set a poem by N’Diayes to music, the libretto offered the opportunity to merge two passions: the IRCAM composer's enthusiasm for baroque opera and his joy of discovery. The music, which can at times be extremely forceful, at times extremely gentle, will be performed by an ensemble with modern instruments and a baroque ensemble; both ensembles in their respective tunings, which differentiate from one another by a semitone. The dialogue of contrasting spheres – earthly and non-earthly, life and death, love and frigidness – has musical equivalents on different levels: baroque – modern, present – imaginary, vocal – instrumental. It is conceived from the vocals; moments, shadows of the Baroque music theater shine through the modern sound texture. "Operating in a multi-dimensional 'space-time' … allows the sensual vastness of the elapsing present to become tangible" (Markus Böggemann).