Review: The tip of the iceberg of politically conscious art music

”Great men, great art, deep stuff!” sings Paulina Pfeiffer, alias feminist icon Valerie Solanas, and rips apart the score with a knowing look.

The chamber opera ”Valerie’s voice,” based on the ”SCUM manifesto,” is written by Christofer Elgh, Sweden’s most feminist composer right now bar none. For example, his next project after ”Valerie” is Sonja Åkesson’s ”Neeijjj”(Noooo) poem. Under Helena Röhr’s direction, his earlier short experimental show has blossomed in all its meat-pink gender power glory into an electrified opera at Bastionen in Malmö.

And he deserves it. Here, Solanas’ solo soprano goes into the ring with the Krock ensemble’s four electric guitarists wearing rabbit masks. With red paint, fiery words and threats of violence, the patriarchy shall be overthrown, and Valerie will reclaim the right to her own story.

”Valerie’s voice” consists of a series of songs where the sounding counterpoint consists of voice and guitar, female and male, through chafing repetitions and scrambled mirroring. Neither the men not the the women are comfortable with the roles society has given them. And Pfeiffer transforms herself in a continuous drag show into baby doll girl, professor, and sometimes naked, with ovaries and arteries on the skin-skin-coloured body stocking signed Åsa Gjerstad.

International wave

The operan is the tip of the iceberg of the new international wave of politically conscious art music that we have seen little of to date on the large Swedish concert stages, but which is finding alternative spaces such as Bastionen in Malmö.

Short version traslated from Expressen and Kvällsposten(pdf)