In fifteenth-century Utrecht Sister Bertken had herself walled up in a small niche next to the Buurkerk. During the fifty-seven years that she spent there, she issued good advice to passers-by and wrote superb poetry, including the Christmas Tract: the story of Jesus’ birth, as told from Mary’s perspective. Weightless and translucent, Mary ascends to heaven like a rocket until she comes to the highest of the choirs of angels and God, where the entirely painless birth takes place in a flash. The intriguing contrast between the restrictions of Bertken’s square metre of living space and the immense spaciousness of her vision provides the basis of Rob Zuidam’s latest music theatre composition for soprano, baritone, boy sopranos and Asko|Schönberg.
Suster Bertken (world première)
Reinbert de Leeuw