Libretto by Louise Welsh / In English with German surtitles
On an expedition to the Polar Circle, a research ship is trapped in pack ice. Tensions arise in the team and the relationships between the researchers are put to the test. Everything changes when the scientists discover a frozen being in the icy wilderness. The ice breaks – and a thrilling tale of climate change unfolds.
The “Anthropocene” is the era dominated by humanity and the Arctic has long been a symbol for the indisputable and seemingly unstoppable destructive influence of human civilisation. The protagonists represent humanity, crowded together as if on an ark: The ship of rich tycoon Harry King is populated by the scientists, the shipowner’s daughter, a shady journalist and a few sailors. The plot reads like that of a thriller and would make a fine script for a film about climate change. Egotism, jealousy and incompetence lead to disaster on the ship. Louise Welsh’s enthralling libretto is further intensified by the dense, independently powerful musical language of Scottish composer Stuart MacRae, in which dissonances and melody compete with each other and intertwine in film-like passages.
The work premiered at the Scottish Opera to enthusiastic reviews celebrating its “unrelenting dramatic tension and superb storytelling”. Opera Now was full of praise for this “opera for the 21st century opera”, The Herald pointed out its “cinematic score” and the London Times described it as “gripping music theatre”.
Stuart MacRae (*1976) is often cited as one of the most interesting contemporary composers. He received commissions from the London Sinfonietta and the BBC Proms early in his career and became Composer in Residence at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. “Anthropocene” is his third collaboration with librettist Louise Welsh, who is also known for her mystery thrillers.
Musical director Leslie Suganandarajah conducts the Continental European premiere of this exciting new opera and Agnessa Nefjodov is only the second director to mount “Anthropocene” after its world premiere. She has collaborated with designer Eva Musil and others for her previous productions in Salzburg, including Hossam Mahmoud’s opera “18 Days...” about the Egyptian revolution and Bellini’s “La Sonnambula”.