they heavily vanish
Ensemble Lagan and The Blackburn Company
Thursday 6 & Friday 7 August
Kings Place St Pancras Room, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG.
The melody for ‘Where The Bee Sucks’ is a memory of one written by my friend Danyal Dhondy, who wrote the music for Tarek Iskander’s Shiver, a 2010 remix of The Tempest at The Yard Theatre. That melody he transcribed from Miranda’s attempt to remember another, Thomas Arne’s, which she half-‐remembered from another Tempest.
In 2014, I was writing a suite of sea music for clarinet, viola, and piano, based on various kinds of wreckage: flotsam, jetsam, derelict, lagan. A wordless setting of Full Fathom Five and an opportunity to submit to Flourish New Opera changed the project into something more like what it is now.
In future, I hope this work-‐in-‐progress will again alter unexpectedly and surprise me, in sustained homage to the words of The Tempest, which are as close as I have come outside of musical collaboration to feeling magic is real.
The actors are all spirits: but to keep this vision of The Tempest going, the musicians bear a burden too. The title
is from Shakespeare’s stage direction: Prospero tasks a disenfranchised Ariel, and all his magical confederates, with putting on a masque, “after which, to a strange, hollow, and confused noise, they heavily vanish”.
This very watery Tempest takes five musical mariners for its mechanicals, engaging them in the difficult work of staging a memory or dream that they can’t control, pin down, or source. Characters and melodies transubstantiate, flame amazement, sometime divide, and then meet and join. When at last Ariel’s freedom is remembered, the masque seems back above the sea surface, if not yet awake.
It almost ends as it started, with Ariel singing everyone asleep, back into the corners of the sea and sky
Music & Words: Timothy Lewis Thornton
Director: Nick Blackburn
Performers: The Blackburn Company
Ensemble Lagan: CN Lester and Felicity Hayward (voices), Sophie Cotton (clarinet), Toby Hawks (viola), Timothy Lewis Thornton (piano).
Timothy Lewis Thornton is a writer and musician living in Brighton, where he studied English Literature at Sussex University. He has published seven books of poetry. This is his first chamber opera. He runs the music and poetry night ‘evenly and perversely’. His favourite night is probably bonfire night.
Nick Blackburn is a performance artist, director and writer from Manchester. He has worked with ENO, the RSC and the Wooster Group (New York), and holds a PhD from Cambridge. He recently co-‐created a permanent exhibition on satellites for the Science Museum. Nick is undertaking psychoanalytical training and works for Mind.