3 August 2015 at 12.23pm | Comment on this article
'Don't expect melodies, don't expect harmonies, just expect soundscapes', says the composer of a piece which may appeal to fans of film music as well as those interested in the musical avant-garde. 'I try to create a musical language which is not based on notated structures, but only based on the perception of sound.'
The opera tells the life story of one man, a fisherman who is born, lives and ages. One day he finds himself speaking to loved ones who are long dead, before coming to realize that he, too, is dead.
'One of the lines in the opera is "It's not easy to be born". It's not said, but it's also not easy to die. Of course, we have no real idea what will happen to us when we go from life to death but we know the experiences of some people who were very near to this and they all speak of a strong light. I've transformed this light into opera.'
With Morgen and Abend, the challenges of creating a work for a repertory theatre such as the Royal Opera House, in which many shows performed each month, has required him to approach the work’s composition in a different way:
'Many of my pieces use microtones, the pitches between two keys on a piano. In Morgen und Abend, I had a practical problem - there's a large orchestra. For a large orchestra to perform microtones would need between 13-16 rehearsals and I'd never get them! So I decided to eliminate the microtones as much as possible.
'There's one singer, Sarah Wegener, who has a lot of experience singing my music, and she can sing microtones. In some parts of the opera, she's singing in sixths of tones and quartertones.'
Watch more films like this on the Royal Opera House YouTube channel:
Morgen und Abend runs 13-28 November 2015. Tickets are still available.
The production is a co-commission and co-production with Deutsche Oper Berlin and is generously supported by Stefan Sten Olsson, Cockayne - Grants for the Arts via The London Community Foundation, Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation and The John S Cohen Foundation.