Back to All Events

Claude Vivier's Kopernikus

  • 22 Boerum Place Brooklyn, NY, 11201 United States (map)

May 15 - 16, 2019 7:00 p.m.

About the performance

Music of the Americas presents the New York premiere of composer Claude Vivier's chamber opera Kopernikus. The production, performed by Meridionalis and the International Contemporary Ensemble, features video by Sergio Policicchio.

In what Vivier described as a "ritual opera of death" the central character- a young woman named Agni- descends into a dreamworld where "mystical beings borrowed from stories, gravitate around her: Lewis Carroll, Merlin, a witch, the Queen of the Night, a blind prophet, an old monk, Tristan and Isolde, Mozart, the Master of the Waters, Copernicus and his mother. These characters could be Agni’s dreams that follow her during her initiation and finally into her dematerialization."

About the composer

Born in Montreal, Claude Vivier (1943-1983) grew up in a working-class part of the city. As an adolescent, he attended a boarding school run by the Marist Brothers that prepared pupils for life in the priesthood. There, the young Claude discovered music while singing in a midnight mass and he began to compose. He was advised to leave the seminary at the age of 18 due to his "sensitive and excitable temperament." He studied composition at the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec (Montreal) with Gilles Tremblay, and spent a few years in Europe at the Institute of Sonology (The Hague) and Hochschule für Musik (Cologne), where he had the opportunity to study with Stockhausen. He also traveled to Japan, Thailand, and Indonesia, whose culture and rhythms had a deep effect on his compositional output. After encountering spectral compositions of Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail, Vivier traveled to Paris in 1982, where he was murdered the following year. Many of his compositions were not heard during his lifetime, and he remains a tragic figure in the canon of 20th-century music.

About the visual artist

Sergio Policicchio (b. 1985, Buenos Aires) relocated to Ravenna, Italy in 2004, where he pursued studies in visual arts and mosaics at the Academy of Fine Arts. He lives and works between Italy, Argentina, and Moldova. Recent exhibitions include La visione dell'invisibile (solo, Vibra gallery, Ravenna, 2017); tsu-na-gu (collective, Shimadai gallery, Kyoto, 2016); Partiture eventual (site-specific installation, Emergenze creative 2015 in Ravenna); and Quelqu'un (collective, M comme mosaique gallery, Paray-le-monial, France, 2015).

About the performers

Katharine Dain, coloratura soprano
Amy Goldin, soprano
Hai-Ting Chinn, mezzo-soprano
Kirsten Sollek, contralto
Christopher Herbert, baritone
Joseph Beutel, baritone
Steven Hrycelak, bass

Michelle Farah: Oboe
Joshua Rubin: Clarinet 1
Madison Freed: Clarinet 2
Zachary Good: Clarinet 3
Gareth Flowers: Trumpet
Michael Lormand: Trombone
Josh Modney: Violin

Established in 2010, Meridionalis is a choral project of Americas Society that focuses on early music and contemporary music from the hemisphere, with a mission to promote little-known and rarely-performed repertoire from the region; collaborating with expert musicologists across the globe on programs of sacred and secular choral music. The ensemble has been lauded for its "well-blended, joyous sound" and "beautifully rendered programs" by The New York Times.

The MetLife Foundation Music of the Americas concert series is made possible by the generous support of Presenting Sponsor MetLife Foundation.

Admission: Free for AS and YPA members; $20 General Admission. Please register below.

Not yet a member? Learn how to become an Americas Society member to access this event.


The Spring 2019 Music program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


Additional support for this program is provided by the Consulate General of Canada in New York, the Québec Government Office in New York, and The Amphion Foundation, Inc.

Image: Sergio Policicchio

Performances and commissioning activities during the 2018-19 concert season are made possible by the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, Booth Ferris Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Jerome Foundation, A.N. and Pearl G. Barnett Family Foundation, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, Amphion Foundation, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Pacific Harmony Foundation, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, The Casement Fund, BMI Foundation, as well as public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council for the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. Yamaha Artist Services New York is the exclusive piano provider for ICE.