Knitting an Opera
July 09, 2012
"[The Queen} sat at the hearth with several waiting-women,
Spinning yarn on a spindle, lustous sea-blue wool"
-- The Odyssey, Homer
Julian Grant had a chance conversation at the Scottish opera that led to a marriage of traditional crafts of the Shetlands with opera. He was working on an opera involving Odysseus, called Odysseus Unwound, and became fascinated with the lace in the Shetland islands:
"It was the lace knitting, rather than the more colourful and traditional Fair Isle patterning, that exercised my musical imagination. Here, only when the knitting is finished and pulled into its final tension is the intricate and subtle patterning which creates the lace effect finally revealed. I found this to be an intriguing way of developing basic musical material, and it operates dramatically too; a passage in the opening scene where Odysseus taunts. Hecuba recurs in ever fuller versions throughout the opera as various powerful ladies fling the taunts back at him, culminating in a full blown curse just before the end." (Julian Grant, www.juliangrant.net, "Spinning a New Yarn Knitting the Odssey")
He unbelievably, within days, got a whole troupe of performers knitting and the result was unbelievable. "... the singing and acting talents of the spinners, weavers and knitters will be in evidence, as will the knitting abilities of the singers."
The Oddyseus Unwound went on stage in 2006, and I can't find any sign of the music anywhere, but then, operas are not usually on my music sites.
It's a cool idea.
Being a Music teacher in my past has me looking for this one too.:)
Posted by: brandi | July 09, 2012 at 10:01 AM