|Robert Hugill The Genesis of Frankenstein|
The Helios Collective with Lindsey Fraser, Ughetta Pratesi, Anuschka Socher,
Isolde Roxby, Tom Asher, Noah Mosley
at CLF Arts Cafe as part of Toi Toi 2015
The Genesis Frankenstein is a one-act chamber opera lasting just over 20 minutes, setting texts taken from Mary Shelley’s novel. The piece arose from another longer piece, Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum for three soloists and ensemble. But the setting of Shelley’s Frankenstein seem to have a strength which lifted it from its surroundings. Eventually I decided to try re-casting it as a short operatic piece using only Mary Shelley’s words.
In the novel, Frankenstein narrates the whole so that all the events are presented in report rather than real time. Transferring this to an opera means that the drama flows faster than might happen if the events were depicted and in a sense the piece is Frankenstein recalling events as they tumble through his brain. I have emphasised this by having three singers playing different aspects of the same character. The soprano is the most excitable one, what I think of as Frankenstein’s questing soul, the tenor is Frankenstein the man whilst the baritone is natural philosophy. The baritone part is generally regular and when the tenor joins him, the tenor part reflects this quality. Similarly the soprano part is the most excitable and this quality transfers to the tenor when he sings with her. To these the director, Ella Marchment, decided to add three dancers (choreography by Sarah Louise Kristiansen) to quite stunning theatrical effect.
There are moments (at the opening and closing) when the singers sing in strict homophony, effectively creating a new voice. The result is more a meditation on the story than a dramatic presentation. As such, it is an extension of my interest in the non-representational aspects of operatic drama, which manifested in my previous opera When a Man Knows by having a chorus singing the stage directions and by creating an opening sequence which was almost abstract.
The Genesis of Frankenstein from Robert Hugill on Vimeo.