Throughout Homer’s The Odyssey, the hero’s wife Penelope stays at home awaiting her husband’s return from the Trojan war.
Her long wait, refusing other men’s advances, and passing the time by weaving, is one of the inspirations behind Penelope Sleeps, a work centring on the abstract relationship between voice and music, space and scale.
Working with composer and performer Matteo Fargion, the Norwegian artist Mette Edvardsen ventures into the world of opera for the first time with a performance dispensing with the form’s traditional grand gestures and narrative.
“In Penelope Sleeps the experimental approach and work with the format of the medium is still in question,” Edvardsen explains. “Rather than alluding to operatic images we think of drawing lines to trace a horizon. The text is written in prose form, like an essay. Essay, from the French essayer, means to try, to attempt. Opera in Italian means to work, to labour. In this attempt to work a space opens up, bringing the two artists into unknown landscapes while at the same time allowing them to pursue their own artistic paths.”