For the creation of Brodeck, the makers, composer Daan Janssens and director Fabrice Murgia, start from the international bestseller Le rapport de Brodeck by French author Philippe Claudel. Both the book and the opera are full of time jumps as the main character Brodeck raises his past while telling the story of the Anderer. Can't quite grasp the story? We synopsise it for you here.
When Brodeck goes to fetch butter at the inn, he makes a gruesome discovery: the villagers have just murdered the ‘Anderer’ – the ‘Other’, a recent newcomer in town. Orschwir, the mayor, assigns Brodeck the task of writing an account of the incident ‘so that whoever reads it will understand and forgive’. Brodeck returns home to his wife Emélia, their daughter Poupchette and his foster mother Fédorine. He makes a start on the assignment, but soon runs up against his own traumatic past. While drafting his report he also recalls how Fédorine took him, as a young foundling, under her wing, and how he lived as a dog in captivity during the recent war. Meanwhile, Brodeck’s neighbour Göbbler keeps a menacing eye on him. Orschwir too reminds Brodeck in threatening terms of the gravity of his task.
Brodeck recalls the Anderer’s arrival in the village. After Mass, Brodeck speaks to pastor Peiper. Glass of wine in hand, Peiper is open about his role as confessor, the war years, and the murder of the Anderer. Brodeck then goes to the inn, where the Anderer was lodging and had met his end. He and Schloss, the innkeeper, discuss the events. Brodeck recalls his student days in the city, where he met his beloved Emélia and felt the grim forebodings of the brewing war: chants of ‘Schmutz Fremdër!’ could be heard in the streets.
— A swear word with multiple meanings, such as dirty foreigner and dirty traitor.
Brodeck thinks back on the moment the village officially welcomed the Anderer. He returns home to find his study ransacked and his writing desk ruined. He suspects Göbbler. Among the debris he discovers a letter addressed to him that Diodème, the former schoolmaster, had hidden in the desk before he died. In a flashback we see soldiers occupying the town and demanding the surrender of those seen as ‘Fremdër’. Brodeck, one of these, is sent to a camp. Back in the present, Brodeck reads Diodème’s confession of having been complicit in his deportation.
Brodeck recalls a conversation with the Anderer at the inn, when he confided in him what Emélia had suffered while he was interned in the camp. He also reconstructs the evening when the Anderer had invited the villagers to an exhibition of his own works, after which the mood at the inn turned ever more menacing. Shortly thereafter, the Anderer discovers that his horse and ass have been brutally killed – a portent of what would eventually be his own fate.
Brodeck delivers his report to Orschwir and decides to leave the village at once with Fédorine, Emélia and Poupchette. ‘My name is Brodeck and I had nothing to do with it. Brodeck… Remember it, I beg you… Brodeck.’