World premiere: 16 October 1999, Donaueschingen
Ensemble Varianti Stuttgart
Conductor: Manfred Schreier
Staging: Thea Brejzek
Claire Bloom, recitant, Mike Svoboda, solo trombone Gerard Buquet, cbass trombone
Libretto: Mari Mezei, based on the diary of Lady Sarashina, Year 1008, Japan
Based on excerpts from the diary of an unknown Japanese noblewoman
English translation: Ivan Morris
This “dream play” is based on excerpts from the diary of an unknown Japanese noblewoman known as Lady Sarashina (“Sarashina Nikki”) who lived during Japans´s “Golden Age” in the 11th century.
The author takes us on a voyage of desire through supposedly real episodes of her life, showing us magical characters and the wonders of nature, blending together her subjective perceptions and subtle shocks in a rather curious way.
2. Dream with the Cat / Requiem
3. The Moon
4. Mirror – dream
5. Dark Night
The libretto focuses on some of Lady Sarashina’s poems and also on events from her life. As to its genre, the composition can be considered vocal theatre or a vocal play, the world of the 11th century Japan comes to life through vocal solutions. Its atmosphere creates a context for odd stories embedded half in a dream, half in reality. As weepers lament in prose only up to the point where emotions reach a climax, and they feel forced to continue by singing, also in this theatrical piece similar tools serve to express emotional escalation. Escalation is carried out by two characters in the piece: when the narrator is just about to reach the point of singing (these are the poetic parts of the text), the solo trombone takes over. This way, the trombone is the continuation of the character of the narrator, only with escalated emotions.
This „character” has a distant, dream-like alter-ego, a contrabass trombone, which we can see and hear only from afar in dream-like scenes.
The form of these two instruments is also unique and exists only in the dream: two-bell trombones especially constructed for this composition. Not only do the narrator-protagonist and the characters of the stories play roles but also the solo instruments, while the other instrument create an atmosphere between reality and dreams.