THE BLIND (Mysterium). A-capella opera for 12 singers or vocal ensemble

In One Act

YEAR: 2001

DURATION: 35′

LIBRETTO BY:
Libretto (in English) by Lera Auerbach based on Maurice Maeterlinck’s ‘Les Aveugles’

SCORING:
2S.2M.2A.2T.2Bar.2B (6 solo voices with chorus)

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Blind Woman I  (soprano) – Blind Woman II (mezzo-soprano) –  Blind Woman III (alto) – Blind Woman IV (soprano) –  Blind Woman V (mezzo-soprano) –  Blind Woman VI (alto) – Blind Man I (tenor) – Blind Man II (baritone) – Blind Man III (bass) – Blind Man IV (tenor) – Blind Man V (baritone) – Blind Man VI (bass)

TERRITORY:
This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes / Sikorski for the world.

COMMISSION:
N/A

PREMIERE:
13 October 2011, Berlin
(Kammeroper) Vocalconsort Berlin – Philip Mayers (conductor) – Cornelia Heger (director)

SYNOPSIS:
12 people find themselves in a dark ancient forest; they are waiting for the return of their priest, who guided them there to feel the last rays of the sun before the winter. As they wait for the priest’s return, they become increasingly desperate. Finally, they realize that they are lost and hopelessly unable to do anything except wait for the priest to save them. Then, they hear the sound of the sea near them. The dramatic tension builds towards its climax when they find the cold body of the priest and realize that they are doomed to die.

They discover how little they know their priest and guardian and how suffocated they are within the walls of their blind existence. They are ashamed of themselves. Forming a circle around the dead priest, they start to pray for forgiveness and salvation. As they pray, they hear steps around them. They don’t know who or what is coming, but the steps are getting closer and closer. The child, who is the only one able to see, starts to cry desperately. What is he seeing? Are these steps human? The steps are getting closer as their prayer becomes more and more intense. Are these the steps of Death? But what is Death? Is it the answer to their prayer so they may finally see the light and end their misery or is it just the opposite, and their prayer has not been answered, and Death brings no light? Is it a metaphor for our lives, religions, or our own lack of sight?

There are more questions in this opera than answers. Every listener can decide on their own interpretation. Symbolically staged in a timeless and spaceless setting—it could be any century and any country—this opera speaks directly to our own time with its cry for communication, loneliness, and hope for salvation.