THE PATRIA CYCLE
Patria (Latin for homeland) is the title of a cycle of related music dramas Schafer has been creating during the last thirty years. At the present time, ten parts of this monumental undertaking have been performed and published. But enough has already been presented to reveal the series as perhaps the most radical and challenging cycle of music dramas to be produced within the past half century.
Many of the works are conceived for special environments: a lake, a forest or a deserted mine. Some begin at unusual times of the day or night (dawn, sunset, midnight) or extend beyond the accepted durations for theatrical works. RA, for instance, is conceived for a set of indoor and outdoor spaces and lasts 11 hours. And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon lasts for a week in a wilderness forest.
In these works theatre meets ritual, mythology penetrates art, the activities of performer and audience become blurred, the arts court one another, flow together in confluence, even moving into areas not normally considered art forms: touch. . .fragrance. . .
Yet for all its diversity, Patria is a unified cycle with a common theme: the search of a male and female character for one another through the many labyrinths of life on earth. The search takes them to many cultures and past epochs, finally to reach its apotheosis on the shores of the wilderness lake from which it began. While some of the Patria works require special environments, others are intended for performance in traditional theatres. Each is self-contained, though cross-references to the other works are numerous, ultimately resulting in a rich and complex mythology.
Actors, singers, dancers and instruments
Duration: 75 minutes
The Princess of the Stars is the prologue to the Patria cycle. The work begins in the darkness before sunrise around a wilderness lake. At the beginning we hear the aria of the Princess drifting unaccompanied across the water. With the coming of light we see Wolf enter in his canoe to search for her. He enlists the help of the Dawn Birds, who comb the water with their wings. But the Princess is being held captive by The Three-Horned Enemy. Wolf prepares to fight for her release and the Dawn Birds carry the news of the impending battle to the Sun, who enters the scene at the moment of sunrise. He separates the combatants and sends Wolf throughout the world to find the Princess. His travels will take him to many lands and will take many centuries. In his search Wolf will assume various characters and the Princess too will take on human form as Ariadne.
Musicians and singers occupy the shores of the lake and masked actors
and dancers move across the water in canoes in the archaic ritual of The
Princess of the Stars. In addition to the complete music and text, the
score is elaborately illustrated with production designs and drawings.
Actors, singers, chorus, orchestra, taped electronic sounds
Duration: 80 minutes
Patria 1 is a study on the theme of alienation. An emigrant (Wolf, of The Princess of the Stars) arrives in a new country understanding neither the language nor the social customs. This new society, which seems to operate on the principles of greed and pleasure, baffles him. While other immigrants are able to integrate and make the best of things, he is not, with the result that he is abused and alienated. He never speaks as he is tossed from one absurd experience to another. Finally at a party he sees the one woman who can save him (Ariadne) but they barely meet when they are torn apart again. Broken and disillusioned, the hero reverts to savagery, holding a child hostage at knife-point before finally plunging the knife into his own stomach.
Composed between 1966 and 1974 Wolfman is a grim comedy of errors in a setting reminiscent of that era. The large-format score, which has frequently been exhibited in art galleries, is elaborately illustrated.
Solo mezzo-soprano, actors, small chorus and orchestra, taped electronic sounds
Duration: 80 minutes
Instead of the noble Minoan princess her name suggests, Ariadne, the Party Girl, is a gay-tragic harlequinesque creature whose life is shattered as if by a drug overdose. She is the prisoner of her own mind. We find her in an asylum surrounded by lunatics who speak absurd languages. Even the doctors and nurses who visit her speak foreign languages. She alone speaks the language of the audience and thus gains their sympathy. At times she imagines herself as a young woman or a child: at others she recalls encounters with Nietzsche, Mozart and heroes from Greek mythology. She could have been the thread of salvation for the displaced hero of Patria 1, but the thread has snapped and she lives a ciphered life of dreams and hallucinations: in the end she threatens and perhaps commits suicide.
Completed in 1972, Requiems for the Party Girl was first performed at the Stratford Festival. The arias from the work have been printed separately and are frequently performed in chamber music concerts. The full score is very graphic with numerous illustrations.
Score (All performers read from the full score) $80.00
Actors, musicians, singers, dancers and carnival people
Duration: 3 hours
The Greatest Show as its name implies, is a carnival or fair, performed outdoors at night in an array of tents, booths and open air theatres. It consists of no less than 100 attractions, large and small, some serious, some ironical and some absurd.
At the beginning of the show on the great Odditorium stage, the showman, Sam Galuppi calls for two volunteers to be heroes for the night. Wolf and Ariadne appear, but the Black and White Magicians make Wolf disappear and chop Ariadne into pieces. Galuppi then invites the audience to try to find the transformed heroes among the multitude of attractions which make up this 'evening of terror and delight.' The fairgrounds become a labyrinth through which the audience wanders freely and not so freely, since some of the attractions are 'restricted shows' for which entrance tickets must be won.
Later Sam Galuppi calls everyone back to the Odditorium for a 'mighty finale' in which the Black and White Magicians will restore Wolf and Ariadne to their original forms. But there is a right and a wrong way to achieve the alchemy of transmutation and The Greatest Show keeps its visitors in suspense right up to the end.
The Greatest Show is one of Schafer's most accessible theatrical works with roles for nearly 150 amateur and professional performers in a galaxy of whimsical and carnival type acts.
Solo soprano, mezzo-soprano, counter-tenor, tenor, bass, small chorus, actors and 12 musicians
Duration: 2 hours
The theme of Patria 4 is alchemy. Around the crucible alchemists are attempting to transmute base metals into their higher, more purified forms of gold and silver. The guiding spirit of the alchemical brotherhood is Hermes Trismegistos, the father of Hermetic philosophy. The minerals, whose solutions, crystallizations, smeltings and burnings fill the alchemists' notebooks, describe the separation and coagulation of chemical substances, but as Jung and others have pointed out, they may also be regarded as the dramatis personae of a process of psychological transformation: then gold and silver are metaphors for the perfected human couple, the King and the Queen or Sol and Luna (Sun and Moon). Such is the character of this arcane work which the author intends for performance at midnight in a deserted mine or factory.
Patria 4 is in many ways complementary to Patria 3: The Greatest Show. That work took the form of a carnival in which the hero and heroine (Wolf and Ariadne) were lost and dismembered through acts of magic. The Black Theatre takes us further. for here the hero and heroine, after a dark ordeal, are given a hint of the perfection to come in the form of the Chymical Marriage.
For dancers, actors, chorus and chamber orchestra, specially-created instruments
Duration: 2 hours 20 minutes
The Crown of Ariadne is a dance drama set on the shores of Crete at the time of the Minoan empire, about 1250 B.C. It describes quite literally the myth of Theseus, Ariadne, the Minotaur and the labyrinth which has been alluded to frequently throughout the Patria cycle.
Historians of Cretan culture are generally agreed that Crete was originally a bull worshipping matriarchy, and that the coming of Theseus and the killing of the Minotaur was a mythologizing of the gradual subjection of Cretan matriarchy to Greek patriarchy. Nevertheless the story of how Ariadne fell in love with Theseus and gave him the thread to escape the labyrinth after killing the Minotaur remains one of the most compelling myths from ancient times because of its potential for psychological interpretation. Who or what is the Minotaur and why must the labyrinthine journey be undertaken alone?
The Crown of Ariadne presents the story very physically, leaving psychological matters to be dealt with later. This is why Schafer chose to present the theme by means of dance, going back to the birth of the Minotaur from a union of the queen of Crete with a bull and ending with the destruction of the palace of Knossos and the escape of Theseus and Ariadne.
In keeping with the terracotta earthiness of the drama, the music includes Cretan folk melodies and rhythms together with specially-created instruments of wood and metal to accentuate the violence of the myth. Diagrams for the making of these instruments are included in the score.
Duration: approximately 11 hours
RA is the story of the death and rebirth of the sun god. The setting is ancient Egypt and the work is based on an Egyptian mortuary text, dating from 1500 B.C. In form RA is a hierophany or sacred drama, lasting from sunset to sunrise, in which the audience, clothed as initiates, are prepared by priests and then taken to the underworld, where, like RA, they die to be reborn in the light of the rising sun.
RA is a multi-sensory experience, including an elaborate array of perfumes, incenses, food rituals and other participative ceremonies involving the initiates. The music includes some Middle-Eastern instruments and some of the choruses are derived from Coptic chanting.
RA exists in two versions. The full score contains the complete music and text, including the original hieroglyphs. It is richly illustrated with drawings and notes, intended, like many of the other Patria scores, as a work of art to be read and viewed. This is a collector's edition, printed on acid-free paper for long life. The performer's version of RA contains the complete text and some of the music. The smaller format makes it easy to follow the complex development of the work.
The setting is that of the great T'ang dynasty of China (A.D. 618--907). While the presentation makes many historical references and includes many authentic Chinese elements, the story and the treatment are original.
The Cinnabar Phoenix is a mythical bird, sent by the gods to live in a palace on earth as a symbol of harmony and peace. The Warring States, however, fought to capture the Phoenix, but it vanished together with the palace to be replaced by a Lake of Dragons. Each year the emperor Wei Lu comes to the site to mourn the loss of the palace and the sacred bird. Alchemical experiments are performed with the hope of recovering the ancient era of harmony; but it is not until a Blue Man arrives from an unknown country with a gift that the chemistry works and the Palace and the Cinnabar Phoenix are restored.
The work is performed on and around a large pond with lifesize puppets and takes place at sunset and after dark on a summer evening.
2 volumes, $160.00Complete Price List | Index
Children's choir, actors, dancers and musicians
Duration: 2 hours
The audience arrives at sunset at the edge of a forest to be met by a group of children, lamenting the loss of their companion Ariane, who has been carried away into the forest by Marsh Hawk. Earth Mother asks the Flower Spirits to assist the children in finding her. Their quest leads them (and the audience) deep into the darkening forest where they discover Murdeth the Wizard, who intends to use Ariane to lure Fenris the Wolf into a trap. Fenris protects the forest, but Murdeth wants to have it cut down and sold for lumber.
With the help of some fairy spirits the children manage to foil Murdeth's plan, but in the course of the action, Ariane is transformed into a Birch Tree. Earth Mother explains that their soul-mate must remain in the forest as a protection against trees being needlessly destroyed, and that with her branches she will also shelter the animals from danger.
In The Enchanted Forest children lead adults back through the strange and miraculous world of their own childhood.
Orchestra of brass, wind and percussion instruments, solo singers, actors, dancers, 2 choirs, SATB and SA.
The Spirit Garden celebrates the cycle of planting and harvesting - birth, maturing, death and rebirth. The work takes the form of the ritual planting of a real garden by the audience and consists of two parts: Spring and Harvest.
The garden is prepared by the Gardeners long before the date of the performance. When the audience arrives for the Spring section, they are divided into seed groups and are given their instructions on what they will be expected to do. The seed groups process into the garden where, after a final preparation of the soil, they will plant their seeds amid ritual dances and singing.
Throughout the summer the Gardeners attend the garden and harvest it in the fall. The Harvest section of the Spirit Garden takes place near or on Hallowe'en All Souls Night and consists of a ritual burning of the remains of the garden before passing it over to Winter, who arrives with his Four Winds to take possession of it until next spring. The audience then proceeds indoors and the Spirit Garden closes with a ritual banquet at which the produce of the garden is consumed.
Score (2 volumes) $150.00
64 performers: musicians, dancers, actors etc.
Performed annually in August at the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve
in Ontario, the Patria Epilogue unites many of the themes that have recurred
throughout the cycle, culminating with the return of the Princess to the
stars and Wolf being awarded the moon by Sun Father. The work, which takes
the form of an elaborate ritual performance in wilderness forest, lasts
for eight days. The same participants return each year to camp in eight
clans at four campsites. The work is self-perpetuating and self-financed
by the members, who pledge to return each year. Further information can
be obtained from:
Some of the music has been published: see Wolf Music.
Other Music Theatre Works
Loving narrates a series of erotic encounters between a man, who speaks French, and a woman, who speaks English. Behind this duet of actors are the taped voice of the Poet and a series of arias and ensemble pieces for four female singers: Modesty, Vanity, Ishtar and Eros, making the whole into a dreamlike tone poem on the theme of love.
The unusual orchestra consists of string quartet, contrabass, harp, piano (harpsichord, celesta), guitar (banjo), mandolin, accordion, percussion (6 players) and electronic and pre-recorded vocal sounds.
This very lyrical work could be performed with minimal décor and with slides or lighting effects, making it suitable for small professional theatres or opera-school productions.
Soloists, sound poets, dancers, choirs, speech chorus, orchestra of wind, brass, percussion and tape
Duration: 70 minutes
The first part of Schafer's monumental music drama, based on the Book of Revelation, tells the story of the destruction of the world as witnessed by John of Patmos. In vivid musical and dramatic scenes the work presents many of the apocalyptic events and images well-known from the Bible: the sounding of the Seven Trumpets, the coming of the Four Horsemen, the reign of the Antichrist, the locusts, the plagues, the Whore of Babylon. Crowds of singers and speakers, both those to be saved and those to be destroyed, surge beneath the jubilant singing and dancing of the angels and the Presbyters who encircle the Throne of Heaven.
Apocalypsis is composed especially for amateur performers with some professional support. There are opportunities for solo improvisation and for the creation of unusual percussion instruments such as Bowls of Wrath, Mandala Bells, Chimes of Light and Angel Wings. As such, the work is ideal for ecumenical or festival performances.
The large-format score contains many beautiful sections in graphic notation, together with a cover illustration by the composer, and complete director's notes for production.
In contrast to Apocalypsis: Part One which is very active, Part Two, which bears the sub-title 'Credo', is quiet and reflective. It is scored for 12 mixed choirs, which are given the names of the twelve precious stones forming the foundations of the new Jerusalem, as described in Revelation. Ideally the choirs should be situated in a large circle around the audience.
The text is an adaptation by the composer of a text by the medieval philosopher Giordano Bruno, and consists of twelve Invocations on the words 'Lord God is Universe', followed by twelve Responses demonstrating God's incommensurability. The Invocations and Responses are sung by different choral groups so that the sound slowly changes position during the singing. At the close it accumulates on the words: 'Universe is one: one act, one form, one soul, one body, one being, the maximum and only.'
Credo could be performed as a concert piece. The choirs are accompanied by tape or synthesizers and possibly also strings. The large-format score is very attractive . A recording is also available.
A music drama for mixed chorus, actors, children. flute, clarinet, organ and percussion (instruments may be substituted)
Duration: 45 minutes
A country church in Maynooth, Ontario was the scene of the first performance of Jonah in the summer of 1979. Based on the Biblical book, the work was largely improvised into existence by the participants, under the direction of the composer. Jonah is tonal in character, is relatively easy to learn, and can be staged simply without special lighting effects or scenery.
Score $15.00 (All performers read from the full score. which is available for sale only)
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