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Newly composed climate opera world premiere in Dansekapellet 2021

In a divided world, we meet three opera singers who are living in a privileged oasis. In an attempt to purify the air of collective bad conscience, and release repressed emotions, we are invited to a lamentation party. Here, everyone donates their salty tears, as indulgences for hundreds of years of apathetic over-consumption. . .

. . . But the disgusting hangover of history gradually destroys the good mood of the party, and it becomes harder to turn a blind eye to the melting of the earth.

From the composer: Lamentations : a happy ending began as an artistic research project in which I investigated emotional and aesthetic responses to the environmental crisis. I believe it has reached a point where the issue is unavoidable, whether intentionally aware or not: our actions are having a global impact. Particularly the rich ‘western nations’. According to many geologists, we have entered a new epoch, called the Anthropocene, in which the human impact on the earth is of a geological magnitude. Simon Lewis, Professor at University College London, sets the year to 1610 in which the Anthropocene epoch started, highlighting the link between the environmental crisis and European colonialism. My artistic research started with a piece of speculative fiction: the idea that the epidemic of ‘melancholia’ that swept Europe in the early 17th Century, was somehow a collective reaction to the start of the Anthropocene - as though they were haunted by something that they had no awareness of. In the music I composed, I drew on the tradition of Lamentation settings, finding inspiration in the music of the late renaissance, in particular of Dowland, Cavalieri & Gesualdo whose music is characterised by its emotionality. During my research, I decided to combine the Lamentation texts with two modern texts written by climate activist Greta Thunberg and marine biologist Rachel Carson. Thunberg’s emotional speech to the UN in 2019 and Carson’s influential environmental book ‘Silent Spring’ from 1962 contrast and mirror elements in the biblical texts. I chose to set to music Carson’s words ‘Can anyone believe it is possible’, an ambiguous question when taken out of context. The full sentence is "Can anyone believe it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons on the surface of the earth without making it unfit for all life?".

Director and concept: Anna Sofie Keller
Composer : Nick Martin
Set and costume design: Pelle Staack
Choreographer : Liva Lopez
Production : Neugeboren Opera Group and Dansekapellet
Produced by Nick Martin & Neugeboren Opera Group.
Foto: Andreas Grøndahl
The production was made possible with financial support from Københavns Kommunes musikudvalg, William Demant Fonden, Korsangernes Fællesråd, Augustinus Fonden, Knud Højgaards Fond og Dansk Komponist Forening

Composers notes libretto
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