Duration: c. 37’
Dedication: Valdine Anderson and David James
Instrumentation: soprano, counter tenor, electric guitar, bass clarinet, piano (doubling electric keyboard), 2 violas, cello, bass, percussion (vibraphone, glockenspiel, bells, bass drum, tam-tam, sizzle cymbal)
First Performance: La Botanique, Brussels, October 16th 1998
Duets from Doctor Ox’s Experiment
In my opera Doctor Ox’s Experiment pair of young lovers are sung by a soprano and a counter tenor. They are doubled by another pair of lovers. with the same vocal pairing, who become their rivals in the second act. For this concert work, written for my ensemble, I took the points in the opera where duets between these voices take place, no matter which of the characters was singing, and adding last scene in which Suzel sings solo, though with the distance voice of another male singer, the baritone Ygène, singing off stage. There are four parts to this concert piece.
Part One opens with a short instrumental opening using material from the very beginning of the opera, and dovetailed into the opening of what was scene 5. This has all the lovers’ material from scene 5 – including the duet material sung by the other pair of lovers. In what were previously quartet sections, the two voices sing their own existing parts, the other two parts being taken by instruments. The part of Frantz has a couple of note changes to get rid of the more obvious unisons but Suzel’s part is unchanged.
Part Two is the love duet which comprises the whole of Act One Scene 8 and is exactly as it appears in the opera. For the performances by my ensemble I played the jazz bass part.
Part Three has an instrumental section at the beginning to reflect the change for the beginning of the second act and is shorter and faster. This is the duet originally sung by Frantz’s rival Fritz and Suzel.
Part Four is the Epilogue from the end of the opera. The soprano part is exactly as it was in the opera. The counter tenor sings Ygène’s plaintive off-stage “Ox? Ox?”, which is, in any case, quite high in the baritone voice and was sung as a ‘head tone’ by the baritone. This final section starts with the instrumental opening as it was in the original concert work Doctor Ox’s Experiment (Epilogue) which I wrote in 1988 as a first draft for the opera (this instrumental music overlaps the end of Aunt Hermance’s final aria in the opera itself).