Waiting for the Sibyl - The Moment Has Gone

Performance Theatre

This is an evening of William Kentridge over two parts that complement each other.  The Moment Has Gone has been created as a prelude to William Kentridge’s chamber opera, Waiting for the Sybil. It stands on its own but foreshadows what is to come in the larger piece.  Some of the performers will be used across both pieces, the singers that you hear in the opening sequences reappear later in the Sybil in different costumes. Kyle Shepherd's distinctive piano scores which are featured in The Moment Has Gone are again woven throughout Waiting for the Sybil in the short entr'acte films that appear on the front curtain between scenes. The highly charged vocal score of Nhlanhla Mahlangu is introduced during the charcoal animations of in the first act and then are the driving force that propels Sybil.  

The Moment Has Gone, is a projection and live music performance piece that is 22 minutes and features Kyle Shepherd’s live piano score accompanied by an all male vocal chorus led by Nhlanhla Mahlangu against the projections of William Kentridge.  It combines excerpts from City Deep, the latest in Kentridge’s series of short charcoal animation films featuring his alter ego Soho Eckstein with sequences of the artist creating work. The Moment Has Gone was made at the same time as Waiting for the Sibyl and includes phrases and ideas that reappear in the chamber opera, and an appearance by Sibyl herself. 

Waiting for the Sibyl is a 42 minute piece for three dancers/performers, six singers, plus electronic recordings with live piano.  It uses projection, live performance and the shadows cast by performers on the backdrop. There are a series of 5 short scenes, interrupted and revealed by the dropping and raising of the front curtain. During scene changes there is a series of interstitial projection moments some are of sculptures or drawings which are coherent for an instant, then shattered into constituent unrecognisable elements. On stage there are projections of pages of books and the shadow of a live performer are recorded in the projections. There are no spoken words for the performers. The text or argument is in projected sentences, phrases, riddles.  

Waiting for the Sibyl is the story of the Cumean Sibyl, a prophetess. The Greek myth states she would write people's fortunes or fates on oak leaves, a pile of which sat at the mouth of her cave. Upon the news of Sibyl and her leaves, people would seek out the cave to take the leaf on which was written their fate. But inevitably a wind would come up and swirl the leaves out of order leading to a confusion of the fates – leaving the seekers unsure of whether the fate they chose was their own, or the destiny of another. Hovering over this history, unspoken in the opera, but certain in our heads, was the fact that our contemporary Sibyl is the algorithm that will predict our future, our health, whether we’ll get a bank loan, whether we’ll live to 80, what our genetics will be. But there is a way in which we are still fighting to hold on to the possibility of a human Sibyl: the desire we have for something other than the ma-chine, to guide us in how we see our future.


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  • 2019-09-10 00:00:00 2019-09-15 00:00:00 - Teatro Dell'Opera Di Roma (Teatro Costanzi), Roma - Italy


Creative  Team


William Kentridge   Concept and Director

Kyle Shepherd Music Director / Composer

Nhlanhla Mahlangu Associate Director / Choral Composer

Greta Goirus Costume Designer

Sabine Theunissen Set Designer

Urs Schönebaum Lighting Design

Žana Marović Projection Design

Stella Olivier Photography


Waiting for the Sybil is co-commissioned by Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg and Dramaten - Stockholm.