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The two executioners (chamber opera)

by David Chesworth and Douglas Horton (1994)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Peter Neville, John McAll, Bernadette Robinson, Tracy Bourne, Deanne Flatley, Robert Jackson from the CD Wicked voice

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two executioners


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Work Overview

This opera, from a musical point of view, could be described as an exploration of recitative, a term traditionally used to describe a style of vocal composition in which melody, fixed rhythm and metre are largely disregarded in favour of some imitation of the natural inflections of speech. Rather than using traditional operatic forms of recitative, I explore different ways of setting the prose with melody and a variety of vocal styles and techniques.

The backbone of the orchestration is provided by a Roland U20 synthesizer utilising some of its programmed features. The keyboard part is largely notated, whereas other orchestral elements are left firstly to the musical director, and ultimately to the musicians.

The libretto is an adaptation by Douglas Horton of the one act play by Absurdist Fernando Arrabal. The libretto concerns a mother who argues with her two daughters while in an adjacent room their father is being tortured to death. Horton says of Arrabal; "Many Dadaists and early Absurdists gave expression to their beliefs about an absurd and irrational universe by denigrating and destroying the aesthetic and dramatic conventions of their medium. Arrabal was able to give expression to this world through convention, and through absence - the deliberate withholding of key contextual information".

— David Chesworth

Work Details

Year: 1994

Instrumentation: 2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, 1 male voice, keyboards (1 player: Roland U20 keyboard synthesizer, sampler with keyboard), tenor saxophone/recorders/whistles (1 player), percussion (1 player), (also 2 actors - silent roles). All voices amplified.

Duration: 60 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Professional.

Commission note: Commissioned by Chamber Made.

First performance: by Chamber Made — 4 Aug 94. Napier St Theatre, Melbourne

Text by Fernando Arrabal.

Age Performing Arts Award - Outstanding Fringe Production.


Article: Hot Opera
by Marcus Breen — © Jann S. Wenner
Source: Source: Rolling Stone Magazine, August 1994, pp. 73

Performances of this work

4 Aug 94: Napier St Theatre, Melbourne. Featuring Chamber Made.

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