Into the Little Hill

(2006)

by George Benjamin

Description
A lyric tale in two parts for soprano, contralto and ensemble of 15 players
Contributors
Martin Crimp (Librettist)
Duration
40
Genres
Opera
Text
Martin Crimp
Instrumentation
bfl(=fl+picc).2 basset hn in F.cbcl - 2 crts.tenor trbn - cimbalom(=perc(1)): cyms/guiro/whip/2 crot - 2 vln(II=mandolin).2 vla(II=banjo).2 vlc.db(lowest string tuned to C)
Singer(s)
Soprano: The Crowd/The Stranger/Narrator/The Minister's Child - Contralto: The Crowd/Narrator/The Minister/The Minister's Wife
Languages
English
Commission

Commissioned by the Festival d'Automne à Paris, with contributions from the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation; Opéra National de Paris; and Ensemble Modern, with contributions from the Forberg-Schneider Foundation

First Performance
22.11.2006, Festival d'Automne, Opéra Bastille, Opéra Nationale de Paris, Paris, France: Anu Komsi/Hilary Summers/Ensemble Modern/Franck Ollu/dir. Daniel Jeanneteau
Availability

Full score 0-571-53212-8 and text 0-571-53149-0 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes

INTO THE LITTLE HILL was commissioned by the Festival d'Automne à Paris, with contributions from the Ernst von Siemens Music Foudation; Opéra National de Paris; and Ensemble Modern, with contributions from the Forberg-Schneider Foundation Martin and I wanted to tell our lyric tale in the most direct and authentic way possible, not an easy task in the age of TV and cinema. Our solution - where the story-telling as well as the multiple roles are shared between just two singers - acknowledges at all times the artificial nature of sung drama, while still permitting dialogue and characterisation. Occasionally, particularly in heated moments, it approaches the naturalistic. Martin’s text remains faithful to the traditional myth of the Ratcatcher of Hamelin, though it evokes disturbing contemporary resonances too. It also reflects upon the power of music as well as its exploitation in today’s world. This work was very much a collaborative undertaking, from the beginning. All those involved tonight in singing, playing and directing were in place - and closely consulted - before a note of the score was written. The orchestration employs some highly unusual timbres, ranging from bass flute and cimbalom to banjo and basset-horns. The resultant sonority is often discreet and always, I hope, transparent, so that the vocal lines can occupy the foreground without struggle. Above all I wanted to embed these lines as clearly as possible into the harmonic environment that surrounds them. In this fusion, I believe, lies a crucial expressive resource on the lyric stage.

© George Benjamin

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