I begin a new chapter – another piece. An honourable offer by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute to write something on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Stanislaw Lem’s birth (1921). In the course of initial arrangements that have been going on for some time now, we have established that it will be a monodrama of approx. 30 minutes based on the “Mask”, short story written in the mid 1970s, for voice and chamber ensemble. I decided to make a reference to one of the foundations of so called “new music”, the Schoenberg’s “pierrot ensemble” (complex reasons, to which I will come back, probably), although not straightforward: I plan to use the classic “pierrot” (flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano) along with its more aggressive “reflection” (trumpet, trombone, saxophone, horn and percussion) with a soprano in center. There are some specific (and exciting) casting and concert possibilities, but I will not reveal them for now, due to the ongoing uncertainty of the overall situation.
I start off with the text. I am reading the story, and about it. There are quite many comments, some from Lem himself, some from others. The possibilities of interpretation are manifold. The content leads in various directions, some universal, some of surprising, even controversial current relevance. The text has not grown old, or it has aged dignifiedly.
I look into a short animation by Quay brothers based on “Mask” with music by Krzysztof Penderecki, although rather only pro forma. I come back to the great (seemingly unrelated but I strongly feel otherwise) “Under the Skin” by Michel Faber and congenial film adaptation by Jonathan Glazier with music by Mica Levi (an element equally important to the picture).
I think I will work on the libretto myself. For now, apart from the original version I also have the German and Russian translations.
More – on the following Sundays, probably for the remaining part of this strange year.