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An opera of clouds : for two sopranos, speaker, chamber ensemble, electroacoustic sound diffusion and video projection

by Christine McCombe (2002)

Work Overview

The work consists of six song settings for voice and chamber ensemble (which can also be performed as an independent song cycle) that are framed and contextualised by three spoken texts. These spoken and sung 'events' are themselves incorporated into a larger performance setting which consists of an environment of electroacoustic 'soundscape' which is diffused around the space with interjections from an off stage brass trio and accompanied by video projections of images associated with the central themes of the work. The projected video material acts as a visual continuum in the work - alternating between clear and abstracted images.

An Opera of Clouds takes as its basis a series of poems by Australian writer Alison Croggon. The three central texts (spoken) deal with the idea of Angels - not as stereotypical cherubic figures but Angels as awesome and sometimes vengeful beings. These figures represent a kind of observer of our human existence - a presence that is felt and sensed rather than seen. The six song settings represent moments of human experience, glimpses of being.

The intention of An Opera of Clouds is to create an alternative to more traditional narrative-based forms of music theatre. There is a kind of 'emotional narrative' at work in the piece that is articulated by recurring themes and images, but the openness of the work invites the audience to make their own associations and interpretations. By combining a variety of different elements, some related, some unrelated, my aim is to draw the audience in to an imaginary landscape which is strange and ambiguous yet also compelling and beautiful.

Work Details

Year: 2002

Instrumentation: 2 sopranos, flute, oboe, clarinet, percussion, 2 violins, viola, cello, horn, trumpet, trombone.Technical requirements: CD playback, mixing desk, minimum 4 speaker sound diffusion. DVD player and data projector/s for images. Sconce and spot lighting as required for performers. Amplification for speaker as required.

Duration: 55 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

First performance: by Edinburgh Quartet, Susan Hamilton, Helen Bruce, Jennifer Williams — 2002. St Cecilia's Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland


Performances of this work

2002: St Cecilia's Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland. Featuring Edinburgh Quartet, Susan Hamilton, Helen Bruce, Jennifer Williams.

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