30.8.2020, 18:30, Jiří Myron Theatre
Composition for bass voice, ensemble and soundtrack, 2017–2018
Music: Richard Ayres
Libretto: Richard Ayres (incorporating words by Dante, Leopardi, Shakespeare, Poe, Rossetti and others)
Conductor: Bruno Ferrandis
Director: Jiří Nekvasil
Stage design: David Bazika
Costumes: Marta Roszkopfová
Joshua Bloom, bass
Czech premiere, 60 min
In English with Czech subtitles.
The Garden was commissioned by Asko|Schönberg ensemble and London Sinfonietta with initial development funded by The Royal Opera (London). Inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, Richard Ayres also drew on texts by Edgar Allan Poe, Christina Rossetti, William Shakespeare and Giacomo Leopardi to create a theatrical concert work in a similar vein to his highly popular earlier work No. 42 (In the Alps). The Garden is a darkly comic tale about a discontented man in search of meaning. He digs from his garden down towards the centre of the earth to find the underworld, then all the way back up again to heaven, only to find himself back in his garden once more. Sampled electronics feature heavily throughout the piece, in keeping with Ayres’ current fascination with electronic sounds as heard in recent works such as No. 48 (night studio) (2015) and No. 51 (resting songs) (2017). Richard Ayres himself stated that: “The bass will sing the voices of all the characters during the performance, as though singing to himself. This confuses the certainty of reality, and creates the impression of listening to the central character’s thoughts. Are we as an audience watching reality, or observing a dream and fantasy world? Is the man in fact awake, asleep, or even dead? This I want to keep ambiguous.”
Richard Ayres was born in Cornwall (Great Britain) in 1965. In 1986, he took courses with Morton Feldman at the Darmstadt and Dartington summer schools, and after these experiences, decided to become a full-time composer. He studied composition at the University of Huddersfield, and postgraduate composition with Louis Andriessen at the Royal Conservatoire in Den Haag, graduating in 1992. Ayres continues to live in the Netherlands, and currently teaches composition at the Conservatoire in Amsterdam. Ayres’ music has been performed by many of the major European contemporary music ensembles, as well as by numerous orchestras. He collaborated with the novelist and poet Lavinia Greenlaw on an operatic version of Peter Pan, which was premiered by Stuttgart Opera in 2013. In 2009 and 2015, Ayres partook in Ostrava Days as a lecturer. In 2016, NODO festival featured the first full-stage production of his opera/melodrama No. 42 (In the Alps) (2008).