Piano Rubato

Created in January 2023

Duo / all audiences / duration 50’
Different configurations possible:
theaters (tiers – frontal), or non-dedicated venues: halls, arenas, open-air and outdoor venues… (audience in a semi-circle)

Mélissa Von Vépy, aerial artist, and Stéphan Oliva, musician, invite the public on a journey by boat-piano, in a ship of which only the outline remains, like a skeletal frame.
This ghostly boat could be that of the Flying Dutchman, or the boat from The Island of the Dead by Böcklin, or the one which, in ancient Egypt, led souls to the world of the dead.
The passengers, in this living sculpture moved by Mélissa Von Vépy’s breath and Stéphan Oliva’s music, stroll through a mysterious space, from the world of the living to that of the dead. During the journey, water and air mingle, revealing the invisible and the silence. And then, there is only breath and movement.

This ship floats on dry land, it is a sound ship.
It pitches in an endless journey, to the other world.
Attempting to reconcile with the invisible,
with the souls of those who went before us.
The captain is music, the woman is wind,
her breath animates this strange piano-boat;
All three, instruments of passage,
inextricable transmitter-transceivers.

“RUBATO” is an Italian musical term, literally: “fly or subtilize” but in music: to play rhythmically with all the freedom available to an interpreter: his share of free will.


Conceived and interpreted by: Mélissa Von Vépy
Musical composition and live piano: Stéphan Oliva
Scenography: Neil Price, Mélissa Von Vépy
Sound design: Jean-Damien Ratel
Light design: Sabine Charreire
Costume designer: Catherine Sardi
Artistic collaboration Julia Christ
Technical management: Julien Chérault
Tour management: Marie Greffier
Administration: Jean-Baptiste Clément


Happés company // Mélissa Von Vépy


Culture Commune, National Theatre of the Pas-de-Calais Mining Basin
Le Sirque, National Circus Arts Centre of Nexon


Le Théâtre d’Arles
La Cigalière, Theatre of Sérignan


French Ministry of Culture – Occitan Regional Cultural Affairs Office (DRAC), the Occitania / Pyrénées–Méditerranée Region, the Gard Departmental Council


Amadeus Audio : development of a custom-made electro-acoustic device, Cédric Cambon : electronics design, Jean-François Tobias – Historical Piano Association, Emmanuelle Grobet, Raphaële Von Vépy and Andy Steiner

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