Here Be Sirens Suite
for three sopranos and grand piano(three performers total) (2014)
|Text information||Texts by Plato, Theobaldus of Cambridge, Homer, Dante, Milton, Sappho (trans. Anne Carson), Erasmus, and Kate Soper|
II. O Sailor
III. Across the Turbid Waves/In a Silent Valley
IV. Here to Me from Krete
|Commission||"Here Be Sirens" (opera) was funded by a Guggenheim fellowship and supported by a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study|
|Premiere||Full opera premiered January 11, 2014; Dixon Place, New York City; presented by Morningside Opera and Dixon Place; Gelsey Bell, Kate Soper, and Brett Umlauf, sopranos • Rick Burkhardt, director|
|Synopsis||Described by the New Yorker as "erudite, hilarious, furiously inventive," "Here Be Sirens" presents the daily life of three sirens, who kill time on their island as they await an endless procession of doomed sailors. Peitho revels in the luxurious sensuality of their rite; Phaino stonily enacts the ritual with no inner feeling; and Polyxo longs for escape into the world of the real, delving into centuries of scholarship and research on her species in an attempt to untwist their circumstances. As the opera goes on, the sirens re-enact the abduction of Persephone, encounter (and battle) their favored sisters the Muses, and leave no rock unturned to plumb the depths of their own origins in this work of "audacious, genre-bending music theatre" (Wall Street Journal).|
|Roles||PEITHO - soprano. A Pre-Raphaelite, early Romantic-era-type siren. Actually in love with every sailor who washes up. |
PHAINO - soprano. The earliest recorded version of the Siren archetype, a mythological blank slate with no human feeling or characteristics.
POLYXO - soprano. Your emcee for the evening. Trying to get off the goddamned island: trying not to understand how impossible this is.
“Here Be Sirens” is a phrase used as cartographical notation on medieval maps, scrawled over uncharted water to signify dangerous unknowns. It is also the name of an opera in which these creatures struggle to investigate their own convoluted origins, desires, sorrows and fears through the one medium they control utterly: song. The Suite culls from the full-legnth opera a few of the Siren's specialties--ethereal medieval chant, gentle otherworldy melody, and the terror of the sublime--to present an exquisite corpse-like portrait of these beloved and familiar monsters in all their murderous and irresistable glory.
- Kate Soper