A Laugh to Cry Opera by Miguel Azguime
Miguel Azguime, noted for his diverse talents, seamlessly weaves his roles as a composer, performer, and poet, resulting in a unique artistic vision that some might describe as almost mystical. His early musical forays were rooted in jazz and improvisation groups, further honed by studying percussion under Gaston Sylvestre. He also gained experience in various composition courses, including those in Darmstadt and with esteemed figures like Emmanuel Nunes and Tristan Murail.
1982 was a pivotal year for Miguel. It marked his association with flutist Pierre-Yves Artaud, which eventually led to the formation of the Miso Ensemble in 1985. Co-founded with Paula Azguime, this flute and percussion duo explored unconventional music-making techniques, incorporating amplification and electronics. Their philosophy, hinted at in their name (MISO, a slow-maturing ingredient in Japanese cuisine), speaks to a profound appreciation for process and a harmonious way of life.
From the 1990s onward, Miguel and Paula Azguime’s partnership took an international trajectory, collaborating with a variety of artists outside Portugal. This period also saw Miguel transition his composition style to a stricter form, incorporating live electronics more frequently. This evolution cemented his reputation as a composer with a distinct voice.
Parallel to his creative endeavors, Miguel has been a stalwart supporter of research and innovation in music, especially promoting Portuguese composers. His contributions include founding Miso Music Portugal, directing Miso Records label and the Música Viva Festival, and establishing the Miso Studio and the Sond’Ar-te Electric Ensemble. In 1995, he conceived the Loudspeaker Orchestra, dedicated solely to electronic music performance. Together with Paula, he later founded the Portuguese Music Research & Information Centre in 2000, a digital archive dedicated to the Portuguese musical heritage, accessible at www.mic.pt.
A significant moment in Miguel’s career was his DAAD residency in Berlin in 2006, where he birthed the multimedia opera “Salt Itinerary.” This production paved the way for more collaborative ventures within the Miso Ensemble, integrating music with visual arts. Collaborations with Paula Azguime, such as “Yuan Zhi Yuan” (1997/98), “O Centro do Excêntrico do Centro do Mundo” (1999/2002), “The Little Girl Water Droplet” (2011), and “A Laugh to Cry” (2013), exemplify this synergy.
Miguel’s passion as a composer, poet, and performer has always driven his interest in bridging the gap between words as meaning and sound. He harmonizes the linguistic semantics and metaphors with sonic elements. This fusion characterizes not only his operatic compositions but also his chamber, instrumental, and electroacoustic works. His “initiatory journeys” in the creation process leave discernible imprints on his latest works.