Ariana Nozeman, 18 snapshots for two sopranos, recorders/duduk and dance (2013, 30’) libretto by Arnold Marinissen, with texts by Ingeborg Bachmann, Isadora Duncan, Juliette Gréco, Jacqueline du Pré, Romy Schneider, Clara Schumann and Mary Wigman

First performance: Amsterdam/The Netherlands, Oude Kerk, November 2nd 2013, by VOCAALLAB: Ana Naqe & Michaela Riener (voices), Raphaela Danksagmueller (recorders and duduk), Johanne Saunier (dance & staging), for Museumnacht

We don’t know much about the actress Ariana Nozeman. She could not read or write, and therefore left no written traces. In archives, one can find out in which plays she was involved, what she earned, whom her collegues were. We know about her husband and about a lover. But who was she? She was born in Middelburg en buried in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. But where? She did not get a gravestone.
In 1655, Ariana Nozeman (1626/28-1661) was engaged by the Amsterdamse Stadsschouwburg. This had never happened before. So far, only men had been under contract. Like a whirlwind, and between outbreaks of pestilence, she acted in an inconceivably large number of plays. She was probably admired by many, most likely painted by Rembandt, and premiered plays by Vondel amongst many others. She did not only act, but sung, danced, made her own costumes, and possibly played the flute as well.
When Ariana Nozeman died just a few years later, she was survived by only one of her children, her daughter Maria, who would become an actress as well. And she left a big gap at the Amsterdamse Stadsschouwburg, which was filled immediately by four other actresses.
In an attempt to give Ariana a voice and a face, I read letters, diaries and other texts by seven female artists: Ingeborg Bachmann, Isadora Duncan, Juliette Gréco, Jacqueline du Pré, Romy Schneider, Clara Schumann, Mary Wigman. From their quotes I created a life as Ariana’s may have been, in 18 snapshots. These 18 snapshots last some 30 minutes and require a team of four women: two female singers, a recorder/duduk player and a dancer. They can be performed staged or as a concert piece. The piece was written for VocaalLAB.

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