Unavailable for performance.
Metamorphosis is a device common to folklore and mythology which cleverly explores complex issues of identity and personality through a simple and engaging narrative form. Though notable contemporary uses of this device exist in literature - Shakespeare's Midsummer Nights Dream, Virginia Woolf's Orlando, Kafka's Metamorphosis, Keats' Lamia, TS White's Once and Future King, this device is underused in theatre and music with artists often returning to Ovid's most famous of Metamorphosis stories. In some ways, music is a perfect medium for expressing ideas of metamorphosis. This song cycle of contemporary metamorphosis stories – four poems by Arjun Devanesan – is a set musical narrative, which explores personal metamorphosis in aural, literary and visual forms. The stories reference and reflect Ovid's stories but focus on ordinary modern people rather than mythical figures. The stories and music seek to express the transformative power of emotional upheaval, transcendence of psychic or physical pain through spiritual metamorphosis and the greatest metamorphosis of all - death. The piece is written for solo voice and specifically for the extraordinary countertenor Andrew Watts. I buried him in the garden is the story of an old woman whose husband has died. Her loss and helplessness crush her and she finds that the only release is for her to join her husband in death. She does this by lying in the garden she shared with her beloved and letting her body die and return to the earth. Fairy queen fugue tells of a young boy who is taking drugs at home in his room. He feels himself spiralling in ecstasy and realizes he has taken too much. Rather than stop he continues to take more because he decides that one moment of bliss is worth more than a whole life of mediocre experiences. He catches fire and is burned to ash. In The laburnum tree, a young prostitute is attacked and raped on her way home in the early morning. Rather than fight, she becomes mentally detached and finds her work has made her so cynical and jaded that she is aloof from such things. She is transformed into a laburnum tree and is unassailable. The last story, Albatross is of a priest who, becoming disillusioned with the church and the responsibilities of his office, escapes to the sea and transforms into an albatross. From a musical perspective, this is an exploration of these four evocative poems by using a variety of musical transformational devices. Some in a context of a strict form, such as passacaglia in The laburnum tree while others are in a freer form, such as in Fairy queen fugue. There are musical ideas and motives that appear in the first poem, I buried him in the garden, that symbolize universal ideas and are examined throughout the pomes such as, death, loneliness, sorrow and acceptance of faith. These musical references appear throughout the whole piece in various transformations. In the final song, Albatross, a Gregorian chant is used as a transformational material, mirroring the liberating journey of the priest who transforms into an Albatross. The coda of Albatross, which is also the closing section of the whole piece, features a dramatic and picturesque transformation of the Gregorian chant and though the text of the poem ends, there is a children’s choir, singing the original text from the mass, Kyrie eleison, with the orchestra, driving the piece into a climactic end. Programme note by Lior Rosner