Kurjus ja tema teisik / Evil and its Double


  • Anne-Marie Le Baillif Sorbonne University




good and evil, representation, end of the 16th century, tragedies, opera


This paper about theater fiction tries to enlighten the problem of the figurative representation of forces of evil. Incidentally we notice that some very actual productions are based on dramas from the 16th century transgressing the period and updating the figures of violence. On this way, assistance is leaded „behind the mirror“ and required to ask herself what is representing evil in our world? To try to understand the mechanism or a part of it we have chosen three figures of contemporary stage as example. 

The first is La Furie, from Jean Virey du Gravier’s tragedy La Machabée (1596) and staging in 1985. This figure without any reality is only visible from the assistance but she manipulates all the figures of the play. Her nonexistence let her possibility to say truth. 

The second is a muted figure in Wolfgang Mitterer’s opera Massacre (2003) witch is based on Marlowe tragedy Massacre à Paris (1596). She is mixing the old age and the new one and show explicitly the concordance amongst stages on which the character of the 16th century are performing and Iraqi’s war video. 

The last one is Ariel in Thomas Adès’ opera The tempest (2004) based on Shakespeare’s eponym play (1611). This character has no representation as la Furie. Ariel is also fiction witch mixed evilness and goodness, an avatar of the two previous characters. In the present case Evil is shown as the will of Prospero who wants have revenge. Ades insist on the total obedience of Ariel, who brings out his incoherencies. Obviously, origin of evilness is not in the mind of the executor but in the contract that bind him to another force: jealousy of Duke of Milan who takes off Prospero from his throne because he was not an action man. 

These characters make a bridge between the Renaissance and now a day and show how permanent is the question of evil. The man hopes through civilization get rid off from aggressiveness but he hasn’t found yet how to struggle against evil. Through the parallelism between the both historic period, the writers and composers are going on to explore the question finding this composite material as inspiring today as it was in old time. They put on the stage same violence and same blinding of the human being, let us know that we haven’t progress in treatment of evil. 


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