Biography
Belgian composer Nicholas Lens, best known for his operas, has gradually moved from accessible, crossover works to more "serious" composition. Well-regarded in the classical world, he became known to popular music fans through his collaborations with Bad Seeds frontman Nick Cave.

Born Nicholas Lens Noorenbergh in 1957 in Ypres, he began learning violin when he was five. He later studied trumpet, double bass, and viola da gamba, and attended the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels. Lens debuted in 1989 with his score to the Vietnam War movie Cruel Horizon. He came to international prominence with his first major work, the operatic trilogy The Accacha Chronicles, about the visit of capricious gods to earth to study human nature. Scored for chamber orchestra and a small cast of voices, the three parts saw him gradually move from a melodic, accessible, crossover sound towards a more severe, complex, and atonal style. Flamma Flamma: The Fire Requiem (1994), Terra Terra: The Aquarius Era (1999), and Amor Aeternus: Hymns of Love (2005) were released individually by Sony Music, and later as a three-disc compilation. A 1994 promo sampler was issued featuring an excerpt from Flamma Flamma; its hellish video even made it onto MTV Europe's Chill Out Zone. Lens later wrote an expanded five-hour version of the trilogy, intended for stage performance as a single work, but it was never performed.

Lens also wrote scores for experimental art films; his soundtrack to the film Marie Antoinette Is Not Dead was released in 1995 as Orrori dell'Amore. Metal band Rammstein used one of its tracks, "Was Hast Du mit Meinem Herz Getan?" ("What Have You Done with My Heart?") as their tour outro music. He also wrote and directed his own short film, Love Is the Only Master I'll Serve. In 2012, Lens returned with his opera Slow Man. With libretto by Nobel Prize-winning South African novelist J.M. Coetzee, based on his novel, it premiered in Poznan, Poland. 2016 brought the harrowing Shell Shock, about the horrors of war, with libretto by Nick Cave. The Bad Seeds frontman's first foray into opera, it was Lens' biggest work to date, featuring a full symphony orchestra, and was released by Universal. During the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, Lens and Cave, their respective schedules wrecked by the pandemic, decided to collaborate again, this time on a more intimate chamber opera. L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S., inspired by the silent, forest-shrouded Buddhist temples of Japan's Kanagawa Prefecture, was recorded by a small ensemble that included Lens' artist daughter Clara-Lane and was released by Deutsche Grammophon. ~ John D. Buchanan, Rovi




 
Videos
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Nicholas Lens & Nick Cave – Litany of the Forsaken (Official Music Video)
Nicolas Lens - Sumus Vicinae (Flamma Flamma)
Nicholas Lens - Flamma Flamma
Was Hast Du Mit Meinem Herz Getan - Nicholas Lens
Nicholas Lens (opera composer) -'Love is the only master I'll serve,' excerpt film
Terra Terra
#BACulturaEnCasa - Flamma Flamma (2014)
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