Albertine is a theatrical piece, for solo female voice and whispering male voices seated among the audience.
Proust’s novel takes the form of an elaborate monolog, in which a man reminisces about a woman named Albertine, who has since died in an accident. In the course of his narration, as the man descends into the depths of his recollection, he increasingly becomes consumed by a kind of „posteriori“ jealousy. The singer, Anna Prohaska, alternately assumes the roles of Albertine and the object of her desire, a young laundress. Vocally she also sets the scene, suggesting the two women’s erotic meeting by a lake in the French countryside, evoking the natural sounds of the secret landscape described by Proust.
Some male voices, located in the audience, recite short excerpts from the novel in very low, “internalized” voices. This whispering choir emanates from a subliminal space, representing the fragmented voice of the male character in Proust’s narrative. The male voices try to make contact with Albertine - a contact which is impossible - and they attend the imaginary meeting of Albertine and the laundress, reflecting and analyzing the increasing pain felt by the male character.
The text for the solo voice is adapted from the French original. The score utilizes a broad range of the possibilities of the sung and spoken female voice, with the intent to delve into the realm of vocal sounds which are natural, voluntary and involuntary expressions and reactions to emotional conditions.
The text for the whispering voices, in German encompasses a more complex grouping of fragments, segments of text related to the man’s own personal pondering. The source is Proust’s original in the translation by Eva Rechel-Mertens.