The Allegory of Desire

— The Song of Songs in Western and Oriental traditions (2013)

Zefiro Torna – Vocalconsort Berlin – Ghalia Benali

The Hebrew Bible contains an extremely mysterious book known as the Song of Salomon, Canticle of Canticles or the Song of Songs. The book reads like a compilation of poems thematically centered around the theme of human love. The main characters are two lovers of the opposite sex. The poetry is rich in its imagery, often plainly erotic and suggestive. The Song of Songs is set in a sublimated world, it can be seen as an allegory for God's love and as a drive for mysticism. For centuries it has formed an inspiration for numerous oriental and western artists as well as scientist.

Together with Vocalconsort Berlin and the Tunisian singer and artist Ghalia Benali, Zefiro Torna created this exceptional program in 2013. Single voiced madrigals with instrumental accompaniment, vocal duets and trios, a women's choir and polyphonic settings by composers such as von Bingen, de Machaut, Dunstable, Agricola, Lassus, Grandi, Sances, Monteverdi, Schütz, Buxtehude and J. Ch. Bach interact with traditional Arab songs, narrating texts by ‘Sufi’ poets such as Rābiʻa al-ʻAdawiyya and by a new generation of poets such as the Egyptian Abdallah Ghoneem. Creating an inspiring dialogue between cultures and history, The Allegory of Desire bridges the distance between sacrality and humanity.

"Between similarity and difference, suddenly a lot appeared to be vibrating. When, at the end, Lischka demonstrated her Indian singing style and together with Benali easily improvised a raga, the heart was completely sold." De Standaard - 07/10/2013

This production with an international cast has been staged on prestigious podiums and festivals in Mechelen, Berlin, Hamburg, Nürnberg, Winterthur, Sevilla and Vilnius. In the upcoming years the program will further be promoted internationally. A CD recording by Warner Classics will be released on 21 October 2016.

“Was zunächst befremdlich wirkt, wird schnell zu einer großen Bereicherung; bald schon treten Orient und Okzident in einen Dialog.” Gmünder Tagespost – 02.08.2016

Zefiro Torna

  • Cécile Kempenaers soprano
  • Griet De Geyter soprano
  • Jowan Merckx recorder, percussion
  • Romina Lischka viola da gamba, Indian chant
  • Jurgen De bruyn lute, theorbo


Vocalconsort Berlin

  • Claudia Böhme soprano
  • Anne Bierwirth alto
  • Stephan Gähler tenor
  • Johannes Klügling tenor
  • Christoph Dresche

Ghalia Benali Arabic chant, compositions

Jurgen De bruyn artistic direction
Folkert Ude dramaturgy
Jörg Bittner scenography, light design

CD