9-13 March 2023
Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Main Stage
A life dedicated to freedom and dignity
She was an exceptionally popular artist, a civilrights activist as well as a heroine of the French resistance. And now, after a life of fighting for freedom, Josephine Baker has become the first Black woman to enter the Panthéon, a mausoleum in Paris built to honour France’s most revered figures. In Perle Noire, singer Julia Bullock explores the life and struggles of this icon from a present-day perspective.
In English and French
Lyrics Claudia Rankine
Direction and set design Peter Sellars
Costume design Carlos Soto
Lighting design James F. Ingalls
Audio Marc Urselli
Choreography Michael Schumacher
Joséphine Baker Julia Bullock
International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE)
Jennifer Curtis, violin
Alice Teyssier, flute
Ryan Muncy, saxophone
Rebekah Heller, bassoon
Daniel Lippel, electric guitar
Tyshawn Sorey, piano and percussion
Co-production with Théatre du Châtelet (Parijs)
Ticket sales t.b.a.
‘Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine is not
a personal portrait about Joséphine, but a tribute to her’
JULIA BULLOCK - SINGER
In a cage, singing about her ‘home’ in Africa and dancing in a banana skirt, African American performer Joséphine Baker made her breakthrough in France in the 1920s. She soon became one of the most famous and best-paid artists in the world. Paradoxically enough, by making herself the exotic object of European fantasies, Baker was able to free herself from a prospectless and impoverished existence in her hometown of St. Louis. Her pursuit of independence and dignity was not limited to her own life, as she also played an important role in the French resistance during WWII as well as in the post-war civil rights movement in the US.
‘Joséphine Baker is an icon of liberty’
Opera singer Julia Bullock and director Peter Sellars on Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine.
International Contemporary Ensemble
The International Contemporary Ensemble is a collective of musicians, digital media artists, performing artists and other talented individuals. The collective transforms the way music is created and experienced, often by researching how music is absorbed by the different communities that make up our world. In doing so, they give expression to a diverse and wide range of musical genres and styles, from chamber and electroacoustic music to improvisations and multimedia compositions. In March 2023, the ensemble will providethe musical accompaniment to Perle Noire: Méditations for Joséphine.