Midsummer Magic (2001)
Single-act opera for chamber ensemble and 19 singers
Libretto: Dobrinka Tabakova
Clarinet (Bb & E), percussion (tubular bells,
glockenspiel and vibraphone), piano, 'cello
Cast: High voice (soprano/countertenor)- the Boy
3 sopranos- fireflies 6 sopranos, 4 mezzos, 2 tenors
and 3 basses- The Shadows.
The bell sounds midnight Fireflies play in
the still, warm summer's night. A young boy cannot
sleep, so he walks around in the garden, thinking to
himself how ridiculous the stories that his parents
tell him are, unaware of what is going on so close
1 o'clock The boy's attention is
grabbed by distant murmurs, so he follows the sound
to find its source. He reaches a large juniper and
hides behind it, to satisfy his curiosity. But all
he can see are dark figures, no faces, no flesh,
like shadows. Now that he is closer, he can hear
them talk, and realises that they suspect the
presence of an outsider. Aware that he is the
outsider, the boy tries to run away. He is invited
back by one of the figures, who assures him that he
has nothing to be afraid of. Still, frightened, but
even more curious, the boy follows the silhouette
with no face.
2 o'clock When he is amongst
the dark, mysterious beings, the boy realises that
they are dancing to music he had never heard before.
As they dance, the figures tell him that they are
the shadows of people who are now asleep. They lead
separate lives when it is night. The boy asks them
to tell him about their secret existence, but is
told that they have been sworn to secrecy, and no
mortal has ever been allowed to find that out. But
one of the shadows recalls that there is a way- if
the eldest shadow sings him back to sleep.
3/4 o'clock The eldest shadow sings a lullaby, and
the boy quickly falls asleep. Now it is safe for the
shadows to disclose their secret. They tell the boy
that through the night they travel far to get
inspiration for their 'masters'- the humans, and
then they visit them in their dreams, telling them
their fascinating stories. The shadows begin to name
some of the people that they have visited regularly.
The playful fireflies subdue their voices.
o'clock Dawn approaches, and the shadows must return
to their day-masters. In his sleep the boy asks if
he could see them again. The shadows tell him that
they only meet like this on the longest day of the
year- if the moon is full. But if he believes in
their powers, they will be with him forever. The
shadows quickly disappear as the dawn rises.
First Performance: 10th May 2001, Guildhall
School of Music & Drama
Duration: c. 35'
Tabakova- Midsummer Magic (2001)
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