Commissioned by Opéra d'Avignon. The world premiere took place at Opéra d'Avignon on 5 May 2023
- 2(I:afl.II:pic).2(II:ca).2(II:Ebcl)+bcl.2(II:cbn)/0+2f-hn.0+2ctpt.1.0/timp(belltree,suspcym,bdr).perc/cristal baschet.pf.hp/str (22.214.171.124.2)
- light soprano, lyric soprano, mezzo-soprano, folk singer, baritone, dancer, child actor
- 1 hr 20 min
- Ben Osborn
Three Lunar Seas tells three parallel stories about three of the big issues of our changing times: the question of having children in a world where the future is uncertain; the impact of disease on our social relationships; and our responsibility towards the environmental crisis. Each narrative takes inspiration from one of the so-called lunar ‘seas’ (here the Sea of Fertility, the Sea of Tranquility and the Sea of Serenity), as well as ancient tales of the moon. The figure of the moon, ever hovering above us, lends an eternal, transcendental dimension to these societal questions.
“Ben (librettist) and I wanted to talk about some of the crucial issues of our times, about living in a time of change, when the future is particularly uncertain. We also wanted stories with female characters at the core. The three stories ask questions without giving clear answers, hoping to spark reflection in the audience’s own minds.” Josephine Stephenson
She (mezzo-soprano, thirties)
Her (light soprano, thirties)
Cynthia (lyric soprano, fifties)
Midwife/Night Watchman (barytone, thirties)
Serena (folk singer, teenager)
He (dancer, fifties)
mani (child actor)
In the Sea of Fertility, inspired by the Brothers Grimm story Der Mond und seine Mutter, a couple of women go through the hope of having a child, the sadness and bitter disappointment of a miscarriage and the difficult decision as to whether to keep trying.
In the Sea of Tranquility, inspired by the myth of Selene and Endymion, Cynthia and her partner are increasingly separated by his development of a neuro-degenerative disease. She understands that their relationship is changing into that of her existing in the waking world while he increasingly exists only in a version of sleep and dream, and questions its future.
In the Sea of Serenity, a young activist trespasses onto private land to film the place where poisonous material is entering the ocean and putting her community in danger. A night watchman notices her and realises what she is doing. He hesitates about whether to stop her and turn her in.
The stories are told as contrasting fragments, intercut with one another. All three exist as separate narratives woven into a single world, and follow the structure of a Moon’s cycle around the Earth. The chorus acts both as a traditional Greek chorus commenting on the action, and as a mirror of society.
- New Opera Highlights from Wise Music Classical
- Wise Music Classical invites you to explore new highlights from our opera catalogue. In these recent and upcoming premieres, new productions, and premiere recordings, our composers and their creative collaborators explore subjects ranging from the historical (Hadrian, X: The Life and Times of Malcom X, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) to the futuristic (Oryx and Crake), the fantastic (El Ultimo Sueño de Frida y Diego, Florencia en el Amazonas, Die Kinder des Sultans) to the thoroughly contemporary (Grounded, Blue, Innocence, The Shell Trial). Threaded throughout these works are perennial themes of loss, longing, magic, art-making, and community.
- Josephine Stephenson’s Three Lunar Seas receives its world premiere at Opéra d’Avignon
- 3rd May 2023
- Commissioned by Opéra Grand Avignon Three Lunar Seas by Josephine Stephenson – with a libretto by Ben Osborn – will receive its world premiere on May 5 2023.