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MIKROVION : Small Life, an opera in five parts, 36 Images in the Phantom Flux of Life

by Constantine Koukias (1994)

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The Australian Music Centre's catalogue does not include any recordings or sheet music of this work. This entry is for information purposes only.

Materials for this work may be lodged in our collection in the future. Until then, any enquiries should be made directly to the composer/sound artist or their agent.

Work Overview

The three-hour opera is in five parts and its 1994 premiere in Hobart, Tasmania, featured 16 principal performers, 7 musicians, 20 men and women in the vocal choruses, a semaphore chorus of 11 high school students as "the voice of God", a creative team of 11 and a production team of 24.

Described by one writer as a "microscopic epic", MIKROVION takes its title from the classical Greek for "small life" - in this case HIV.

The 1994 production by IHOS Music Theatre and Opera included matinee workshops for students that provided an insight into production techniques and information on the disease. In this regard, the opera had both an artistic and an educative ambition: it sought to develop a broad social context for HIV AIDS research while also examining the microscopic world of the virus in relation to technology and perceptions of the body and illness. Its stated aim was "to collapse and re-figure distinctions between such traditionally disparate realms of cultural, political, scientific, moral and psychological concerns towards a broader and more inclusive understanding of the issues arising from the HIV AIDS phenomena".

The artistic design by Ann Wulff included images of tears and semen - the "fluids of love and intimacy" - such as an electron microscope photograph of a tear drop by Ian J. Kaplan. As Danielle Wood wrote at the time, "Who would have thought that something as simple and human as a tear could hold such striking images within?"

In addition to being sung in English, classical and modern Greek, German, Hebrew and Chinese, the composition draws on many forms of coded language, including semaphore, morse code and braille. The libretto, also by Koukias, is composed of fragments from biblical texts, the Torah, the I Ching, Plato, the Origin of the Species, counselling guides, scientific papers, magazines, newspapers and jazz lyrics. As related by journalist Matthew Westwood, "Koukias compares the mutations of language with distortions triggered by the human immunodeficiency virus".

Work Details

Year: 1994

Instrumentation: 16 singers, 7 musicians, vocal chorus.

Duration: 180 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by Queensland Biennial Festival.

First performance: by IHOS Music Theatre and Opera — Nov 94. Princess Wharf Shed, Hobart TAS

Performances of this work

Nov 94: Princess Wharf Shed, Hobart TAS. Featuring IHOS Music Theatre and Opera.

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