28 March – 4 April
Christian Jost’s new opera Voyage vers l’Espoir (Journey of Hope) will be premiered at the Grand Théâtre de Geneve on 28 March in a production directed by the Hungarian film and theatre director Kornél Mundruczó. Jost’s opera is based on Xavier Koller’s film of the same name, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1990. This production was due to take place in 2020, thirty years after the film’s success at the Oscars, but was postponed due to the pandemic. Journey of Hope narrates the experience of displacement, migration, and the search for a promised land – a topic that continues to have poignant relevance today.
Kornél Mundruczó, director of the films Jupiter’s Moon and White God, roams the European stages with projects with new social and theatrical dimensions, intersecting reality and representation. Journey of Hope is more than a story: it is the reality of those who have been forced to leave their country, and, in their absence of home and identity, dream of paradise instead. This is Mundruczó’s third opera staging for the Grand Théâtre, after L’Affaire Makropoulos (2020/21) and Sleepless (2022/23).
The German composer Christian Jost is already well-known in the German-speaking world for his operatic creations, such as Hamlet at the Komische Oper Berlin or La Lanterne rouge at Opernhaus Zurich. This is not his first foray into the cinematographic universe either, with previous adaptations including Death Knocks, a satire by Woody Allen, and The Red Lantern, a film by Zhang Yimou. He orchestrates in a cinematographic style, rich in powerful rhythms and great emotions. He said, “With Voyage vers l’Espoir, we understand how migrations are instrumentalised. Beyond opera, art must make everyone aware of the problems of others and nourish empathy. In this context, my music wants to touch the heart of everyone”. A specialist in the contemporary repertoire, conductor Gabriel Feltz leads the cast, including the Turkish baritone Kartal Karagedik and the mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb, a Canadian of Tunisian origin, in the starring roles.
Xavier Koller’s film, which is about a Kurdish family who abandon their land and their family to reach Switzerland and find “paradise”, was made in Kahramanmaras, a city in the area hit by the terrible earthquake in early February 2023. In Koller’s film, as we have seen in the news recently, individuals suddenly found themselves with no land under their feet and no country to fulfil their dreams.
Alongside this production at the Grand Théâtre, the Geneva Chamber Orchestra and the Yojoa Assocation are joining forces for a series of projects titled ‘Cultures and migrations’. The project promotes the integration of different cultures present in Geneva and will include collaborations with The HEM, La Comédie, the Alhambra and the Victoria Hall. These projects are intended to inspire cross-cultural conversation and include a celebration of Newroz (March 18), a performance from migrants and refugees (June 16), and a fundraiser for the victims of Kahramanmaras.