Songs and A Sea Interlude - from the Opera Where the Wild Things Are

(1981)

by Oliver Knussen

Description
soprano and orchestra
Duration
17
Genres
Solo Voice, Solo Voices with Orchestra
Text
Maurice Sendak
Instrumentation
3(III=picc).1.ca.3(III=Ebcl).1.cbsn - 4030 - perc(4): vib/2 t.bells/tgl/5 c.bells/3 susp.cym/5 tpl.bl/2 pair clogs/TD/xyl/anvil/siz.cym/mcas/whip/2 BD/2 glsp/spring coil/2 tam-t/tamb/claves/(wind machine) - pno (2 players) - harp - strings (min 6.6.4.4.4)
Languages
English
First Performance
14.2.81, BBC Radio 3: Jane Manning/BBC Symphony Orchestra/Oliver Knussen
Availability

Score 0-571-50706-9 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes
Songs and a Sea-Interlude is an orchestral song-cycle derived from the one-act opera Where the Wild Things Are which Maurice Sendak and I wrote in 1979-82, based on his well-known children’s book of the same name. The story centres around Max, a small boy dressed in a white wolf-suit, who misbehaves and is sent to bed without his supper. That night a forest grows in his room, an ocean appears and Max sails off “through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are”. The appearance and antics of these fantastic monsters scares Max at first, but he tames them in short order, and is duly crowned King of all the Wild Things. After sending the Wild Things to bed without their supper, however, Max becomes lonely and leaves, much to the monsters’ fury. When he reaches home the forest vanishes, and he finds supper waiting for him in his room – still hot. Songs and a Sea-Interlude, which lasts about 17 minutes, brings together the bulk of Max’s solo scenes in the opera to form a little character portrait, beginning with an external view of his naughty antics and gradually working inwards toward the final “Night-song”. (The Wild Things themselves are represented by the brief but characteristically forceful appearance of the Sea-Monster near the end of the sea-interlude). The Music grows – in many directions – from the chords heard at the outset. These are derived from the Coronation Scene of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunor, and the musical language is in some ways an elaborate homage to Mussorgsky and Debussy (matchless composers of music about children); but equally to the fantasy, richness and directness of Maurice Sendak’s art. Songs and a Sea-Interlude is dedicated to Jane Manning, who created the part of Max in the 1980 Brussels Opera production of the first version of Where the Wild Things are. O.K.

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