PLOT SYNOPSES OF THE OPERAS
(These are summaries of more detailed treatments and are subject to revision)
All rights reserved Copyright (C) 1994 Derek StrahanDEREK
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1. 'EDEN IN ATLANTIS". The setting of the opera evokes the earth in an earlier geological age, the "Golden Age" of Greek mythology, the "Eden" of legend. The earth is closer to the sun, the year is of 360 days, the axis is perpendicular to the elliptic, resulting in eternal summer from pole to pole. The sun is larger. The sky is a different colour. There are two moons. The earth is bountiful. Many forms of animal and marine life now extinct proliferate. Though amply provided for by nature with little effort, humans have to share their environment with many dangerous animal species, and tend to live in protected communities. On the island continent of Atlantis, matriarchal rule prevails under Iahu (named after the prevailing deity). The story concerns the love triangle between Eve, Lucifer, an older man, a refugee from another culture, who has scientific knowledge, and Adam, son of Iahu. Lucifer learns that Adam caused the death of Eve's first love, Daemon, by, firstly, conspiring to have him "married" to his mother as her "consort" for one year, and, secondly, having Daemon lead a hunting party to kill a dangerous "dragon" (a large, carnivorous reptile). Eve and Daemon are deeply in love, but such "permanent" liaisons are discouraged in this matriarchal society, where inheritance is matrilineal and male paternity is not formally acknowledged. Daemon dies during the hunt. Lucifer, who is himself in love with Eve, does not yet tell her about Adam's betrayal. Conflict is resolved by the advent of a strange "star", a body which enters the solar system. Lucifer, having knowledge of glass, metals and fire is able to predict this event and bring Eve to safety in his workshop (lair) in a cave in the side of the great mountain. Eve insists on bringing Adam with her. From this vantage point , from the mouth of the cave, they witness the "star" enter the sky and collide with the second moon. Eden is then engulfed with fire. Lucifer chooses this moment to reveal to Eve Adam's role in the death of Daemon. In despair Adam flings himself into the flaming abyss which is now Eden. Eve survives with Lucifer, who becomes her new Adam.
MUSIC DEVELOPED: In the Scena already written, Eve sings about a tryst in a walled garden (Eden) between Eve and her first love, Daemon. The music and words evoke the paradisial scene. (See also under LIBRETTI) The work contains a leitmotif for the (present) moon. This was originally written as part of a film score "The Cult of Diana" ( Roman Goddess of the Moon). An orchestrated version of it and other pertinent themes may be heard in a Suite drawn from this music released on a Jade CD "Remembering Adrian Braun" JADCD 1073. The Scena "Eden In Atlantis" is scheduled for release on the next Jade CD.
2. 'POSEIDON IN ATLANTIS" The opera recounts events occurring during the rule of Poseidon, who, according to Plato, was the founder of Atlantis. There is conflict between the old matriarchal ways and the newly developing patriarchal principles - conflict which breaks out into open warfare as Poseidon must defend his kingdom against attack by two clans of women warriors, the Amazons, based in West Africa, and the Gorgons, from the same area. Complicating this emergency is the growing rivalry between Poseidon and his brother Zeus, whose empire is Mediterranean-based. Prometheus, a scientist (in the same mould as Lucifer, from the first opera) tries to keep intact the alliance between the two brothers. He also invents new weapons, and instructs Poseidon's son, Atlas, in the mysteries of his science. Poseidon's wife, Cleito, a native of Atlantis (and of the race of Amazons) contrives an alliance between the Atlanteans and the Amazons, to defeat the Gorgons. Atlas and his brothers inherit the Atlantean empire. With it, Atlas inherits a conflict which will plague civilisation - that between matriarchy and patriarchy.
MUSIC DEVELOPED: Music themes for this opera are developed in the 20-minute work "Atlantis" for Flute/Alto Flute & Piano (released on Jade CD "Voodoo Fire", JADCD 1063.
3. "CALYPSO IN EXILE" Calypso is in rebellion against her father and , finally, is sent by him into exile for promoting the ways and beliefs of the old (goddess) religion. She is banished to one of the many islands which then dotted the Atlantic, thus beginning the tradition of islands ruled by sorceresses who rule by magic lore. Among her many adventurous visitors is a wandering sailor, Ulysses, whom she persuades to take her back secretly from exile to Cercenes so that she can again foment rebellion in Atlantis. A key scene takes place between these two lovers on the balcony of a villa looking out over the ocean on a moonlit night. Ultimately, Ulysses leaves Calypso to return to his wife, and Calypso, in a final confrontation with her father, is again and forever exiled. Female lore thereafter goes underground.
MUSIC DEVELOPED: The duo composition "Atlantis" contains an instrumental Cantata which portrays a scene between two lovers as described above. Leitmotifs evoking male and female principles are introduced and developed in the second segment of "Atlantis Variations". The work "Voodoo Fire" contains a treatment of African polyrhythms which will be an important feature of religious rituals of subversive beliefs (the tribes of Amazons and Gorgons were located in West Africa).
4. "THE DESTRUCTION OF ATLANTIS" The opera depicts the events leading up to the final days of the island kingdom and its fate when the earth is struck by an asteroid drawn into the earth's orbit by a triple conjunction between the Earth, the Moon and Venus ( an event which coincides with Day One of the Mayan Calendar, dating back to 8498 BC) . Deucalion fails his initiation into the Atlantean priesthood by falling in love with (and eloping with) the Priestess who enacted the part of the temptress for his ceremonial induction. Her name is Eve. Hermes, a scientist in the mould of Lucifer/Prometheus, advises Deucalion of the approach of a star which will bring disaster. He also advises the King, Jupiter, of this, but the King is too preoccupied with the impending invasion of his kingdom by Pelasgian forces from the Mediterranean, and ignores the warning. Hermes charges Deucalion with the care of a special craft which has been under construction for some time, and which contains a complete record of Atlantean knowledge together with seed samples and space for domestic animals. Deucalion and Eve set sail as the King and his guests assemble for a banquet to celebrate the portents in the sky, which the King interprets as being signs of his forthcoming victory against his enemies. Amid earthquake, fire and flood, Atlantis sinks beneath the waves. In the distance we glimpse, on the surface of the heaving waves, a solitary ark. There is a distant singing of female voices, as sirens bid farewell to Atlantis. Seabirds wheel over the vanished land, their cries mingling with the song of the sirens.
MUSIC DEVELOPED: A first version of music for the destruction forms part of the third segment of "Atlantis Variations")