Menu Close

This Monday sees the premiere at the Grand Théâtre de Genève of “Justice”, the eighth opera by the Spanish composer Héctor Parra.

Spanish composer Héctor Parra (Barcelona, 1976) premieres his eighth opera, Justice, this Monday in Geneva. Commissioned by the Grand Théâtre de Genève and the Tangente Festival in Sankt Pölten, Austria, the opera is directed by Swiss filmmaker and stage director Milo Rau, who wrote a script based on a tragic story that led to the deaths of some twenty people in Congo: in February 2019, a truck carrying sulphuric acid destined for the Mutanda mine – owned by Mutanda Mining, a company linked to the Swiss group Glencore – left the road and crashed into a minibus and some houses. The accident killed 21 people – many of them children – and seriously injured several others, burned by toxic products. Four years after the events, Rau wanted to keep the story alive, to expose the perverse links that multinationals sometimes have with the powers that be.

Rau wrote the synopsis of a screenplay, from which the Congolese writer Fiston Mwanja Mujila (Lubumbashi, 1981) wrote the libretto in which the action is set in the present day, five years after the accident, when the director of the Swiss multinational travels with his wife to the small village where the accident happened to inaugurate a school as an act of compensation. They are welcomed by the head of the village and its people, but nothing goes according to plan.

The opera will be performed in Geneva on 22, 24, 26 and 28 January, and will soon be performed at the Festspilhaus in Sankt Pölten on 30 April and 1 May.

To compose the music for this opera, Parra immersed himself in Congolese music, both traditional and pop, and although he did not use African instruments, he did use marimbas as percussion instruments, trying to evoke the sounds of the Katanga region. Finally, in November last year he travelled with Milo Rau and his production team to the Democratic Republic of Congo to record images that would form part of the opera’s set design.

© Moritz von Dungern. Composer Héctor Parra (centre) during his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo in November 2023.