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Music Text

Libretto by Claude Vivier (F-imaginary language)


0.1.2.bcl.0- by singers):Balinese gong/3 japanese gongs/BD/t-tam(lg)/crot/ant.cyms/t.bells/Cardboard tubes/glsp

This work requires additional technological components and/or amplification.

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes (Hendon Music)

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Théâtre du Monument National, Montréal, QC
Conductor: Lorraine Vaillancourt
Company: l'Atelier de jeu scénique de la Faculté de Musique de l'Université de Montréal


Coloratura Soprano
Mezzo Soprano
Baryton-Martin or Tenor

In this ‘mystic tale’ the central character Agni – named after a Hindu deity – calls on historical and mythical figures: Lewis Carroll, Merlin, a witch, the Queen of the Night, a blind prophet, an old monk, Tristan, Isolde, Mozart, the Lord of the Waters, Copernicus and his mother.
Is Agni merely dreaming that they are present? Are they no more than figments of her imagination? Or are they memories of the human archetypes that accompanied her during her ritual initiation? Agni dematerializes.

Press Quotes

“Close, mystical harmonies are tinged with microtonal dissonances that vibrate almost visibly. Waves of passion are cloaked in a shining, medieval purity — and a use of babbling invented languages — that feels otherworldly; the effect is simultaneously in and out of body.” —New York Times

Composer Notes

The main character is Agni; mystical beings borrowed from stories (represented by the other six singers) gravitate around her: Lewis Carroll, Merlin, a witch, the Queen of the Night, a blind prophet, an old monk, Tristan and Isolde, Mozart, the Master of the Waters, Copernicus and his mother. These characters could be Agni’s dreams that follow her during her initiation and finally into her dematerialization.

— Claude Vivier

Reproduction Rights:
This program note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with a credit to the composer.

Recommended Recording

Opera Factory Freiburg / Holst-Sinfonietta / Klaus Simon
bastille musique bm001


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