Nick Planas

Composer and musician

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Marionette (Operatic Monologue - 2012)

The idea for this short Operatic Monologue came about during a holiday in Sicily in 2005. We visited a Marionette Theatre (called “opera” in Sicily) and I was struck by the way people went to the opera to see not just their favourite marionettes (all of whom are named and well-known) but to see them in different roles: for example, the puppet “Angelina” may be performing the role of Joan of Arc one week, and Marie Antoinette another. The work was premiered in Brackley on 8th September 2012.
 
This is a very modern work - the music is fairly dark in mood and uses only three instruments to accompany the soprano soloist. The clarinet portrays movement, using a variety of contemporary techniques including the use of microtonal intervals, whilst the cello and piano provide firm rhythmic and harmonic support.
 
In the first of the three sections, the Marionette introduces herself to you, the audience (who she always refers to as “they”) and points out that whilst you see her in her various roles, you do not really see her strings and the sturdy rod which runs up her backbone and through her head. She bemoans her lack of freedom to move.
 
In the second section she sings about the many different roles she will play over time. Some of her joy in performing these roles comes out, however the listener is always aware of the disjoint between her world and the ‘reality’ of ours.
 
Finally, as she draws close to the end of her performance, she reminds everyone that they are all restricted in the roles they play in life – we all are bound by and controlled by our circumstances, while she is free to play a different role next time.
 
The wonderful Libretto for this work was written by the writer and novelist Anna Thayer (b.1984)

This extract from the premiere, performed by Charlotte Ball (soprano), Nia Williams (piano), Lucy Downer (clarinet) & Jennifer Hubble (cello), was recorded by Steve Pogson

Please contact  to arrange performances of this work