Sunday, June 30, 2013

Uksus in Bregenz and beyond

The Uksus opera has been doing a slow tour along the Marchia Orientalis, from the initial amphibious assault on the beaches of Klagenfurt last December to the inevitable scorched earth twixt there and Bregenz last week, where the musical armada arrived as the opener of the Theaterallianz festival. I, like the Deadheads of yore, found myself following along their path in my battered Volkswagen Van, strident with rainbows and peace symbols, the site of many a conquest, and the centerpiece of many a drug-induced comatic experience.

My German, seemingly worse than ever, allows me to experience every performance like a child - a child whose parents don't mind it hearing some really naughty words in their Deutsch variants, which I then, like a child, repeat throughout the day, sing-songing the same tunes again and again. And again, because of my poor German, I tend to see the forest piece-gestalt rather than the wordlike trees, and I discern that the piece has matured as it travels, form coalescing from chaos. As it matures, I've begun to see what it is really all about, a recognition one would have hoped one would have known before one wrote the music but one is sure - without doubt - that God or her lesser angels and possibly their helper elves guided one's pen to the truth from the start.  Except possibly the ending, which may need some work.

My surprise visit did get on the Austrian TV, and there was a maestro-ish press conference where I was treated like I knew what I was talking about, and where I may not have sounded like an idiot, but one can never quite judge such things for oneself.  The piece itself was a delight to experience again, the performers wonderful, the society superb, the swimming pools and attendants and alcoholic overtaxing of my already overtaxed kidneys and liver and other internal organs which, when lightly sautéed, give a pleasant mouth feel and a pleasant tang of urine or bile or other bodily humors, as befits their function, a joyous cacophony.

I do hear whisperings from the ravens that the next performances may be in Wels, or Linz, or somewhere else in northern Austria, so I should check the oil cooling and the bed springs for further journeys - and further conquests - in the woods and valleys of the great Austrian nation.

The English-language version of Uksus, which will premiere somewhere here in San Francisco next year in one of the premier houses, is progressing through the usual tediousness of fundraising (we call it "development") but also along the exciting paths of translation and reworking and chances to fix the problems such as the aforementioned ending.

P.S.: Having now moved several operas of mine between the German and English languages, I should someday write a treatise on the differences between the two and the difficulties of moving something already composed in one to the other: way too many syllables in German, the high points of sentences coming in wildly different places, word order different in general, and again the problem of way too many syllables.

Scene 6: in which she kills her children

LaShaun undresses Trayshawn.

Dear Father,
dear Jesus,
lead these little ones
on their treacherous journey
fleshly, into your arms.
My little boy, Mr. Trayshawn Harris,
who cannot swim,
an angel in human vesture,
the water is so cold,
will chill him,
deep through his naked skin,
to his bones,
bone chilled.
But not his heart, not his soul,
with which your hand doth protect and shelter and warm,
and warm,
He runs, but she catches him and picks him up,
such a little boy, so easy to lift, yes, I hear you,
so easy to lift.
And Taronta Ray Greely Jr, take this plunge,
harsh and cold,
into the deep sea, back from where we came, each,
formed by mysteries beyond our comprehending
and swim, and founder,
and feel the chill of the water in your lungs,
tearing, searing pain,
and pass through death,
that which He has promised us,
He who, on Calvary's mount, defeated Death,
so that each of us can come into his arms,
waiting for you, my son,
my son, behold your mother, woman, behold,
my Joshoa Greely, my boy, only 16 months,
who still toddles so cannot swim,
and the water is so cold,
I send you through this passage,
like the Stargate with the lights all around.
Waiting for you,
a kindly old man and his son and the other,
less corporeal,
a bird,
halos like lights all around,
I see the light form about your brow, dear Joshoa.
Your mother is so happy for you,
my God is in you,
as I undress you.
and drops him into the water.
I feel the nubs of wings on your back,
they will lift you,
even though your body is sodden down with cold watery death.
A powerful strength will find you,
the wind from your wings drying the chill water from you,
and, swinging him by one foot and one hand, flings him over the railing.
She turns to the next child, undresses him, 
She holds out the baby
the hands of our Lord warming your heart,
his lungs breathing life into your young body,
the Resurrection and the Life,
he promised this to us all,
forever and ever, forever and ever, forever and ever.
Don't struggle my son.
I hear you,
cooing to your mother,
so easy to lift
and drop into the water,
My baby,
I can't see you,
I can't hear you, my son,
be strong,
the water is cold and you have such a long way to go.
I love you and I'm so proud of you,
strong enough to take this journey,
dangerous through the cold chill,
a bone chilling watery death,
ahead of your mother,
whose certitude,
feeling, joy, peace,
God of Abraham and Isaac,
Joy, Joy,
Tears of Joy,
On this day the 19th of October,
the year of our Lord, 2005,
we must each take this journey alone,
so alone,

I feed each of you to the sharks,
the pain of their teeth tearing through your bodies,
in the cold chill dark water,
cold to draw the life from you,
through your naked skin,
taking the life that I gave you,
that your Father gave you,
that He gave all of us.
Hold, I hear him now,
I have a phone call from him,
He's calling me.
Sorry, can't talk now, busy,
can just listen.
She drops him in.
Thank you my God,
tell me again how right this is,
each of my boys,
the cold chill of death,
the dangerous journey,
through this Stargate.
From here on Earth to Heaven above.

To be with him today in paradise,
truly this is Eternal Life,
that they know you,
the one True God,
and the one that you sent,
Jesus Christ,
Jesus Christ,
Jesus Christ,
may I not forget your words.
It is finished.

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