Stephen Albert's Into Eclipse for Tenor and Chamber Orchestra. Full score.
'Into Eclipse is based on Ted Hughes' adaptation of Seneca's Oedipus. The five episodes chosen as texts for this musical setting form an abbreviated version, in song, of this Roman dramatisation of the Oedipus myth.
Seneca's play has no external action. As Peter Brook informs us in his introduction to the play, "...it takes place nowhere...possibly it was read aloud in the bathhouse to friends." It therefore seemed possible to take the essential elements of the tale and transform them into a rather complete musical statement that was non-theatrical yet dramatic in its own terms. Into Eclipse is thus not a monodrama, nor even a solo oratorio, but rather a 'Herosong.' It is somewhat in the tradition but not, of course, in the manner of early balladeers and minstrels who often set ancient stories and myths to music and performed these musical narratives for both court and country village.
The story is sung from different viewpoints (that of Creon, the chorus of citizens, and, of course, Oedipus the king) all encompassed within the bounds of one man's voice and his complement of instruments. There is no concious attempt to 'paint' or emphasise particular words or phrases within the text, nor was there an effort to musically heighten Seneca's already nightmarish vision, with its withering onslaught of bloodthirsty images. To do so seemed to risk weighing down the cycle in a morbid atmosphere, one filled with caricature and the grotesque.' - Stephen Albert
The full-Orchestra version of Into Eclipse was premiered on September 8, 1986, by the Seattle Symphony with Gary Lakes, Tenor, and Gerard Schwarz, conductor. It is also available in a version for Tenor and Chamber Ensemble [Flute/Piccolo, Clarinet/Piccolo Clarinet, Horn, Trumpet, Percussion (2 players), Harp, Piano, and Strings]. This version was premiered on March 7, 1982, by the 20th Century Music Consort with David Gordon, Tenor, and Christopher Kendall, Conductor. Duration: 30 minutes.