The team from three-Michelin-star Spanish restaurant El Celler de Can Roca and the video artist Franc Aleu recently unveiled a trailer for their culinary opera El Somni. Now Joan Roca confirms to Eater more details on the venture. In addition to a dinner, which will be held in May, the project includes a book, two exhibitions, and a film. As an extensive website for Somni reveals, the team has no fear calling food art or going as cross-media as possible. Here's a look at what makes up the effort:
According to Joan, the dinner is the principal component of the experience — what brings every single component together. Twelve guests will sit around a table to have twelve courses of food and twelve pairings of wine, which will accompany the twelve acts of the opera. The opera's libretto is based on "Barcelona's Playing Cards," a set of 250 flashcards designed by Aleu and illustrator Peret. These cards are designed as "authentic visual poems, iconic prints with a great magnetism, created to illustrate a concept, a word or an idea." Diners will get a set of flash cards with each course and accompanying video projection. Cards are dedicated to many ideas and topics, including "anger," "confusion," "beauty," "to be," and "yellow."
The dinner itself is structured as an opera with a prelude and twelve acts. The website for the piece breaks down every single one. It includes video screenshots, descriptions of the dishes, and information on the artists who contributed to each portion. Take, for instance, Act 6, "The Courtship." Its main themes are love, courtship, and dance. Here's a description of that section of the opera:
Amid this dreamed paradise, Astrid sees a young boy .The vegetation pushes her to approach him. He smells like apple. His naked body looks marble. Suddenly, her senses are awakened to an attraction to that unknown man who is staring at her. The skin makes a sweet melody and carries them to the dance of smiles. A game of fire and water that ignites sparks of desire.
The visuals that inspire Act 6 [Photo: El Somni]
The dish the Roca brothers will prepare for it is a "Ying Yang — Palo Cortado oysters with garlic." The dinnerware for this act will be designed by Luesma Vega, and it will feature music from composer Albert Guinovart. Several other composers and design workshops assume duties on the other acts. Another thing about the music: it will be played by robots. According to the website, these are "'Pollywogs'" musician robots created by mechanical engineer and designer Roland Olbeter — ciborgmusicplayers are the resident string quartet."
The dinner table [Photo: El Somni]
The first dinner will be held on May 6th in a small domed space at the Faculty of Arts Santa Monica in Barcelona.
A rendering of the dome [Photo: El Somni]
For a full list of collaborators of the project — some of whom haven't yet become involved, like chefs Ferran Adrià and Gastón Acurio and the renowned artist Miquel Barceló — see the website.
There will be two exhibitions: the first will be of the "Barcelona Playing Cards." It will be held at the Ajuntament de Barcelona (Barcelona City Council) from April 19th to May 23, 2013.
The second, more ambitious exhibition will be held at Santa Monica, the same place where the dinner will take place. This exhibition aims to give visitors a sense of the opera, making them walk through twelve different spaces, each inspired by an act in the piece: "Through the course of these twelve areas, visitors can feel the different sensations that main character feels along this dreamlike journey that takes you through the life cycle." It will run from May 9th through June 7th, 2013.
The Movie and the Book
There will be documentary on the process, as well as a book. As for the book, the English translation on the website states that "there will be various formats, starting with a bibliophile edition of 100 copies, made with the same dedication that the monks from ancient monasteries used to have. There also will be more print run editions and more accessible of this book-object of 200 pages."
Stay tuned for an interview with Joan Roca tomorrow, in which the chef reveals additional details.