Opera Scotland

74° North

Music

Paul Meallor

Electro-Acoustic Score

Pete Stollery

Text

Peter Davidson

 

Premières

First Performance: Aberdeen (Elphinstone Hall, University), 15 May 2008.

Scottish Opera première: As above.

 

Background

The fourth work in the final series of Five:15 premieres was a fascinating piece mixing electronic and orchestral effects to create an eerie and bleak atmosphere, much helped by sensitive lighting.

 

Characters

Andrew (baritone)

Stranger / Ghost (tenor)

 

Programme Note

Andrew, a scientist, has been working in the Arctic studying the melting ice on Beechey Island. On his final day he visits the graves of crew members on John Franklin's disastrous 1840s expedition to find the Northwest Passage. Andrew has long wanted to follow in the footsteps of fellow Orcadian John Rae, who tried in vain to rescue the lost men.

It is the last day of the brief summer before the snows return and the temperatures plummet. Andrew is in awe of the landscape. Suddenly he realises he is being watched. He asks the stranger who he is and offers help, but the stranger remains distant - he is cold, trapped in stone. Andrew begins to realise who it is, and sings an impssioned elegy to those men trapped for ever in the permafrost. His connection with and understanding of the place has changed forever.

An Arctic scientist tells the story of a disastrous 1840s expedition, bringing echoes of a terrible tragedy to the surface once more. Dominated by its extraordinary setting, this opera brings two composers together blending orchestral and electro-acoustic music.

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