Soul Seek (detail) View full image

Sjaron Minailo

Director, Performance Artist
© Sandor Lubbe

Sjaron Minailo is an Israeli opera director and performer living and working in Amsterdam. He is the artistic director of Studio Minailo – a laboratory for experimental music theatre and opera performances. Minailo is specialized in highly visual Site-Specific opera performances that break the boundaries of the traditional opera space and experience. His work is often a reaction to or reflection on social and political developments and esthetic transformation of cultures. Alongside classical and contemporary repertory he is also known for new creations based on compositions that were not necessarily created to be staged and new collaborations with living composers.

Minailo is the director of numerous productions, including the white cube opera trilogy Pornographia-Megalomania-Nostalgia; his adaptation of Malevich’s opera Victory Over the Sun for the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; his ongoing installation Rothko Chapel based on the composition of Morton Feldman and his digital work The Transmigration of Morton F. commissioned by the Holland Festival and Opera La Monnaie. He has worked with orchestras such as Asko/Schönberg Ensemble, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and the Residency Orchestra and organizations such as Opera Brno in Czech Republic, Dutch National Opera, Opera Poznan and La Monnaie in Brussels and has been featured yearly at the opera festival Operadagen Rotterdam since 2008.

In previous seasons Minailo created and directed the new opera Medúlla based on the album with the same title by singer Björk at La Monnaie in Brussels; a location performance based on Morton Feldman’s Three Voices for Joan La Barbara (Enoa, La Monnaie, Nuit Blanche Brussel); the opera To Be Sung by Pascal Dusapin (La Monnaie) and the Händel’s Semele for the Operadagen Rotterdam.

Minailo participated in the Jerwood Opera Writing Programme of Aldeburgh and the European Network of Opera Academies; he received the Fast Forward prize from the Dutch Performing Arts fund and is the beneficiary of numerous grants. He was shortlisted for this year’s ‘Young Director’ category at the International Opera Awards.

Arariboy, Rio Brazil

In the run up to the 2016 Olympics, Sjaron Minailo was invited by the Brazilian government to Rio to collaborate with 10 Dutch artists and 10 Brazilian artists to create a new work in 3 weeks. The resulting performance was presented to Brazilian and International audiences as part of the closing events.

Medúlla, La Monnaie Brussels

In 2015 The Dutch based Israeli Sjaron Minailo and the Polish based Lebanese-born conductor Bassem Akiki joined forces on an operatic adaptation of Björk’s album Medúlla.

The Icelandic singer Björk brought out the album Medúlla in 2004, as a reaction to the racist and neo-nationalist excesses provoked by the attacks of 11 September 2001 – the “core” (medulla) of humanity that we all share. Featuring choirs, traditional Inuit throat singing, and human beatboxing, as an album Medúlla explored all the possibilities of the human voice.

Sjaron Minailo was inspired by the different styles of music and the complete reliance on the human voice within Medúlla and came up with the idea of creating an Opera with the dramaturge Krystian Lada, at De Munt/La Monnaie. In 2005 he had made an opera film with Anat Spiegel, who then rearranged Bjork’s album as an opera and wrote new pieces for the production.

For Björk it was important that it was a combination of all vocal and musical styles and that the team wouldn’t turn it into completely classical music. Anat managed to keep the combinations very much in the score and that was something that Bassem carried through, working with classically trained singers and using the children’s choir, working hard to help singers transcend their technique.

With a creative team coming from many different countries, all were born somewhere and chose to leave the country they grew up in and to study or start a career somewhere else – an illustration of the globalised world we live in. The piece celebrated but at the same time illustrated that globalisation gave birth to this state of uncertainty. All these things are connected. 

Medúlla is about the universality of music. It’s a celebration of universalism, coupled with an awareness that universalism is also something many people are afraid of. In that context, some choose to withdraw into themselves, to cling to tradition believing that as tradition, it’s good. The community presented in Medúlla do just that, relying on their traditions ultimately bring about their downfall. 

Rothko Chapel, Feike's Huis Amsterdam

Victory over the Sun, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

The Magic Flute, Grand Theatre, Poznań