Slipdisc courtesy of OperaVision streams the opera ballet The Convert (De Bekeerlinge) from Flanders. Belgian composer Wim Henderickx and librettist Krystian Lada have created a new opera from Stefan Hertman’s haunting novel about identity, impossible love, faith and human strength. Western early music, modern music and film music merge with Jewish and Arabic traditions to create a contemporary opera in which Vigdis’ epic story is told through sound. Koen Kessels takes on the challenge of conducting not only the orchestra, choir and children’s choir of the Vlaanderen Opera Ballet, but also a cast of singers from different singing traditions, instrumentalists playing qanûn, duduk or oud, and a newly formed Antwerp City Choir citizens from different backgrounds.
Lore Binon sings the role of Vigdis. Sung in English with subtitles in English and Dutch.
The plot: In times of religious violence, young mother Vigdis Adelaïs is torn between her Christian upbringing and the Jewish faith she converted to for her lover.
Rouen, 1087. Vigdis Adelaïs grew up in a Christian family at a time of religious and political turmoil. When she falls in love with the Jewish student David, her life changes radically. Their forbidden relationship is discovered and Vigdis elopes with her lover, taking the Jewish name Sarah Hamoutal. They convert to Judaism in David’s birthplace of Narbonne before finally fleeing to the village of Moniou for a while, where life smiles at them.
The First Crusade reaches Moniou. The synagogue, where the entire Jewish community is gathered, is barricaded and set on fire. David is killed and Hamoutal witnesses their two eldest children, Yaakov and Justa, being kidnapped by soldiers.
Vigdis decides to travel to Jerusalem to look for her children. Her search takes her from Marseille across the Mediterranean to Alexandria. There, tragedy strikes again. Her third child dies and she is violently attacked. In Fustat she decides to start a new life and remarries. When she learns that her kidnapped children are still alive and living with their parents, she travels back there immediately.
Vigdis increasingly loses touch with reality and ends up in Nájera, where, as a Jewish convert, she is being prepared by the Christians to be burned at the stake. Her freedom is eventually bought and she goes on the run again. Her last journey does not take her to Rouen, but to Moniou, the place where she was once so happy. Broken by the many trials she endured, she eventually dies in the ruins of the synagogue.
Available from June 18, 2022 at 19:00 CET /1800 London/ 1300 New York