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Notes from Underground : chamber opera after Dostoevsky

by Jack Symonds and Pierce Wilcox (2011)

Notes from Underground


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Work Overview

Dostoevsky's "Notes from Underground" is daring and wild. Set in colourful, torturous St Petersburg, it is a pessimistic indictment of the weaknesses of human will, containing one of the most extraordinary central characters in nineteenth century literature. Spiritually destitute, this man rages manically about himself, and then goes on to flesh out his soliloquy with anecdotes about the events 'aboveground' leading to his eventual retreat 'underground' as he rejects society and human relationships.

This adaptation finds the links between the underground tirade and the aboveground narrative and draws them simultaneously together. We can't read the novel's two halves at once, but music can fold time; it can fuse it, freeze it. Through music we can hear the two halves together, and so the opera is born: past and present in confrontation.

Work Details

Year: 2011

Instrumentation: High soprano, tenor, baritone, 4 actors, flute (db. piccolo/alto flute) 2 clarinets (db. Eb/bass clarinet), trombone, percussion (1 player), 2 violins, viola (db. viola d'amore), cello, double bass.

Duration: 90 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Dedication note: Dedicated to Sydney Chamber Opera

Commission note: Revised version commissioned by Carriageworks and a consortium of donors

First performance: by Sydney Chamber Opera — 13 Aug 16. Carriageworks, Sydney

Work revised 2015-2016.

Performances of this work

13 Aug 16: Carriageworks, Sydney. Featuring Sydney Chamber Opera.

11 Feb 11: Cellblock Theatre, Sydney

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