Fossil Opera: Persephone in the Late Anthropocene
The 2015–2016 HingeWorks opera Persephone in the Late Anthropocene, by composer Denis Nye and librettist Megan Grumbling, does not involve singing. Its mythic heroine cannot send out cosmic arpeggios like Mozart’s night queen; she is limited to speech. A string quartet plays digitally manipulated fragments as actors speak the story of Persephone, transported to the age of climate crisis. Persephone speaks snatches of language ranging from lyric poetry to an imagined Farmer’s Almanac as she moves through the Underworld, remembering her flowering Earthly home, her mother Demeter “in the home” and heavily medicated. Adapting Greek narrative to an era of climate disruption, the opera works as an improvisational human artifact, preserved like a fossil remnant of a grand old art form.
KeywordsOpera Mythology Climate change Anthropocene
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