A new co-commissioned production from English National Opera and the Barbican sees Tansy Davies tackle the most harrrowing of modern subjects: 9/11. The opera itself becomes a ritual, an act of communal remembrance through evocation. As you would expect, it is a profoundly upsetting piece. Nevertheless, it is carried out with nobility, grace, and utter pathos. It felt like a minute of pure, grieving silence before the storm of applause finally broke.
Programme note from Nick Drake, librettist:
…perhaps opera as a form is uniquely able to offer ways to express the horror and grief, but also to help us discover something indispensable, and possibly transcendent, beyond that. Opera has always dealt directly with vast human emotions and experiences. Above all it puts the transforming power of music – going right back to Monteverdi’s Orfeo – at the heart of its human dramas of life, death and love. In that way, we believed, it might allow us to weigh the unbearable horror of what happened, and yet discover some kind of light in that darkness.
Programme note from Tansy Davies, composer:
What happened on that day was unspeakable and it affected the world. In taking on the enormous darkness of that day, I felt and hoped that as an artist, I was responding to the tragedy with creativity, focus and love; driven by the desire to transform or transcend; to find light in darkness; to turn bad into good.