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Music Text

Helmut Oehring, Torsten Ottersberg and historical sources (G-E)


3 deaf sign language artists; S,M,CT,T,BBar; speaker; chorus(12S.8A.10T.10B); solo elec.git; solo trp; solo bcl; 2(I,II=picc).0.1.bcl.tsax.0.dbn- pft(=cel)-strings(; baroque ensemble:2ob.1bn-theorbe-vla da gamba-cem(=org)-strings( electronics-2video beamer,3slide projector,sliding overtitle projection

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes / Bote & Bock

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

For full details on this stagework, including synopsis and roles, please visit our Opera section.

World Premiere
Theater, Basel
Claus Guth, director / Ensemble, Chor und Orchester des Theaters Basel / Jürg Henneberger
Composer's Notes

As usual
– and as it should be –
this is
about power, death, and love
and the struggles of the ancient Ariel,
of whom nobody – not even William S. – knew whence he came,
to teach us humans
how to cope with power, death and love.

And this is exactly what happens in the orchestra,
in the vocal parts, the choir and the solo instruments,
albeit in a much more concealed way,
too much to be perceived by eye or mind,
but one should be able to feel it:

How the orchestra sinks into night
and the choir drowns in the effervescent waves of a storm.
How at times, out of fear of the Invisible,
the singers lose their voices and begin to learn gestures from Ariel’s deaf Spirits.
How the father trembles for his daughter.
And Ariel is simply tired, longing for his distant stars.

Gebärden – gestures – could come from Gebären – giving birth.
The oldest language of this side of the world,
the mother of all languages,
together on one stage, in one room,
with the language of sound and song, from the opposite side of this world.

Just as an example:
"... There was architecture reflected in water;
there were waves, forming only to collapse again;
branches falling into slumber;
plums that fall, suffer mortal agony and bleed gold.
All that, however, was murmuring, stammering,
had found no human voice to express itself.
A thousand indeterminate miracles of the earth have finally found their translator."
(Jean Cocteau)

Each section of the orchestra and each instrument of the Baroque ensemble,
each vocal part, each of the 3 solo instruments, each movement, each noise,
each sound from the electronic Surround Sound system
is a translation of Shakespeare’s last work: The Tempest.

They all become characters on the imaginary stage
behind the one we are going to see,
pictures on walls and words taken from books,
the sounds resist loss and oblivion
and yet they live from and through the process of DECAY.
They must become invisible to unleash their greatest impact...

The fusion of gesture and sound,
the blending of the Now and the Past
is one of the moving experiences only possible in opera.
And for a short instance, a single moment, the world comes to a standstill,
and before everyone steps out again,
this moment of touching the Invisible
may have found its metamorphosis, or its "translator".

© Helmut Oehring, 2006 (translation: Andreas Goebel)


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