[SnarkNotes] PETER MAXWELL DAVIES: Resurrection

[First published on Snark [music] Notes on 5/01/2016]


PETER MAXWELL DAVIES: Resurrection

In Peter Maxwell’s Davies’s short avant-garde opera, Resurrection (1987), a mute child is indoctrinated by our evil modern society, with weird reprocussions.

[Prologue]

A mute child, played by a larger-than-life-sized mannequin, is being indoctrinated by various authority figures, including family, teachers, a vicar and a doctor.

My, what a terrible world we do live in(!)

Intermittent ‘alchemical dances’, in which a rock band accompanies a cat who transforms into a dragon, represent the omnipresent commercialism (rock bands, television, advertisements etc.) that we are constantly bombarded with in the modern world.

“but I WANT a cat that can turn itself into a dragon while awesome rock music plays in the background…”

The action passes between the indoctrinating authority figures and the rock-band accompanied dragon-cat.

Still struggling to see how a dragon-cat with its own rock band is a bad thing…

Eventually, the mannequin-child’s head explodes.

Oh. Well, okay then. Apparently, the awesomness of such a concept is just too much for one mannequin-child to process.
(Although, I expect Peter Maxwell Davies wants you to believe the mannequin-child went insane due to being stretched too thinly between all the different ideologies that it is expected to follow… or something.)

[Main scene]

The mannequin-child has been taken to an operating theatre to be cured of its ‘anti-social tendencies’.

I see what they did there – an opera set in an OPERAting theatre! Very good… please tell me this pun was the reason that this entire work even exists.

More stock characters attempt to fix the mannequin-child, including a capatilist, a trade-unionist, a rabbi, more Christian ministers, a politician and a gospel-preacher.

Tell me, Peter Maxwell Davies, is there anyone in a powerful role who you do trust? I mean, kudos for sticking it to the man and all but… evil indoctrinating trade-unionists?!

The new stock characters remove the mannequin-child’s brain, heart and genitals…

AAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHH!!!! THAT-IS-EXTREMELY-NOT-OKAY!!!

…and replace each with a sanitised, ‘safer’ substitute.

I don’t think I even WANT to know what those would be… Okay, Peter Maxwell Davies, you’ve made your point. Now I’m scared and I want to go home.

The unhappy, now-indoctrinated mannequin-child, having been forcefully stripped of all of its individuality, rebels and guns down the operators and the audience using a machine gun.

Not a REAL machine gun, obviously… It isn’t a real machine gun, is it, Peter Maxwell Davies? ‘Cause, I mean, I’m seriously a little concerned about your mental stability at this point.

The mannequin-child disappears…

Oh, good… I think?

…and in its place the Antichrist rises theatrically from a tomb amidst a flashing disco light show!

WHAT?!!!!

End of opera.

[beat] …what.

Moral of the story: modern day commercialism is a BAD THING.

BETTER MORAL OF THE STORY: avant-garde is weird.

…Now, where can I buy a dragon-cat?

Dragon-cat (3)

I drew a dragon-cat, which I guess is the next best thing to owning one.

[SnarkNotes] RICHARD WAGNER: Ring Cycle, Part 1 – Das Rheingold

[First published on my old music blog, Kirsty Morgan Music Blog on 19/5/2013; then on Snark [music] Notes on 2/11/2015]


RICHARD WAGNER: Ring Cycle, Das Rheingold

In the first part of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Das Rheingold (1852), the unthinking actions of a Dwarf, a God and some Giants spark events that will eventually lead to the apocalypse.

Overture: Fast, flowing cellos represent river Rhine.
Rhine maidens guard magic gold that grants ultimate power.

Why does that gold exist? Why has it not been destroyed? There’s not even been any singing yet, and it’s clear things are gonna go badly, badly wrong!!!

Alberich the dwarf wants the gold.

(TERMS AND CONDITIONS APPLY: Denounce love, get gold.)

Alberich denounces love in order to get gold:
“Thus I curse love”.

Nope, totally don’t see how this could possibly go wrong.

Fashions gold into a ring.

SAURON STYLE!!!

Wotan (Odin) has commissioned giants to build a huge castle (Valhalla).
He offers his wife’s sister as payment to the giants.

Wait, WHAT?!!!!!

Wotan’s wife intervenes.

Wotan, put Freia down. You cannot sell the Goddess of Love to some random Giants…

Giants still want to be paid, so Wotan then tricks Alberich into turning himself into a toad.

No, Alberich! Don’t turn yourself into a toad! Wotan’s gonna steal your…

Wotan steals Alberich’s ring.

[FACEPALM]

Understandably, Alberich is a bit miffed, so he placed a curse on the ring!

Evil Curse!!!

Curse: anyone who owns the ring will be blinded by its power!

[DOUBLE-FACEPALM]

Wotan gives ring to giants.

Wotan? What are you doing? WOTAN! STAHP!!!

Giants fight over ring, one dies.

Well done, Wotan. Well done.
[SPOILER WARNING: You’ve just triggered the apocalypse]

Moral of the story: greed and power-hungriness are bad.

BETTER MORAL OF THE STORY: Never hang around with Norse Gods.
Or Giants.
Or Dwarves…