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Greek Suite

Greek Suite

for mezzo-soprano, tenor and ensemble

Text by Jonathan Moore and the composer after Steven Berkoff


  • Instrumentation: mezzo soprano, tenor and ensemble
  • Edition: performance material
  • Language: English

 
Description
Greek is Mark-Anthony Turnage’s first opera, written at the invitation of Hans Werner Henze for his first Munich Biennale in 1988 and commissioned by the City of Munich. The première was a sensation, and Greek carried off two of the prestigious BMW Prizes, for Best Opera and Best Libretto. It was equally successful at the Edinburgh Festival later that year.

Greek is an operatic treatment of the play of the same name by Steven Berkoff, adapted by the composer and Jonathan Moore, the director of the first production. It is a translation of the Oedipus myth into the contemporary East End of London. Racism, violence and mass unemployment appear as metaphors for the plague that afflicts London, and form the background to the story of Eddy.

Greek Suite was commissioned by the Alte Oper, Frankfurt, for Ensemble Modern, the unique group of German musicians who played for the first performance of Greek in Munich. The Suite summarises the main events of the opera, using the two main characters, Eddy and the Café Manager’s wife, whose husband he kills and whom he then marries, only to discover the horrifying truth ten years later. The Suite is in four movements:

1. The initial scenes of the opera - in the pub, the breakfast chatter - are compressed into an instrumental introduction. Eddy leaves home.

2. Eddy wanders the streets of London and gets caught up in a riot. Eddy and the Café Manager have a violent but completely stylised fight: the insults hurled by the two men are replaced here by 2 horns (Eddy) and trombone (Café Manager). Eddy and the Café Manager’s wife come together after her husband’s brutal death.

3. Interlude between Acts I and II in which ten years and the couple’s increasing prosperity and happiness is portrayed. Their love aria. Mum and Dad’s song from Act I (“How will our Eddy fare?”) in an instrumental version.

4. The last scenes of the opera: Eddy has recognised his fate and runs out into the streets, demented. The other three characters (his wife, Mum and Dad) try to comfort him (“we only love” - sung here by Eddy and his wife). Eddy falls to the ground, apparently blinded. Eddy’s Funeral March.

(The opera itself ends, like the play, on a fiercely affirmative note: “It’s love I feel, it’s love, what matter what form it takes”.

Greek Suite was first performed by Mike Henry (Eddy) and Fiona Kimm (Wife) with Ensemble Modern conducted by Kaspar de Roo, at the Mozartsaal, in the Alte Oper on 30 March 1989.

Sally Groves
Details
Auftragswerk : Commissioned by the Alte Oper, Frankfurt, for the Frankfurt Music Festival 1989
Content text:

I Prologue and Eddy's Farewell
II Fight and Love duet
III Interlude · Love Aria · Interlude
IV We Only Love and Funeral March

Performance duration: 25'0"
Publisher: Schott Music Ltd., London
Uraufführung : 20. März 1989 Frankfurt/Main, Alte Oper (D) Frankfurt Music Festival 1989 · Ensemble Modern; Fiona Kimm, mezzo soprano; Mike Henry, tenor · Dirigent: Kaspar de Roo
Year of composition: 1989
instrumentation: 1(pic.afl.bodhran).2(ca.log drum.break drum).2(Ebcl.bcl).ssax(asax.barsax.ratchet).0-2.1(2metal bars).1.0-2perc(crot, xyl, vib, mar, tub bells, antique sus cym, h.h, gong, tam-t, tamb, 5tom-t, log drum, military drum, b.d, pedal b.d, bodhran, ratchet, whip, cel)-hp.pno(epno.clav)-va.2vc(clav).db
Performances
Orchestra: Chamber Domaine
2011-07-09 | Oxford (United Kingdom), Jaqueline du Pre Centre
Conductor: Nicholas Kok
Orchestra: Psappha
2006-11-06 | Manchester (United Kingdom), Royal Northern College of Music, Bruntwood Theatre — 19.30 h
2002-06-21 | York (United Kingdom), York University
2001-07-25 | Aspen, CO (United States of America)
2001-07-23 | Aspen, CO (United States of America)
Conductor: Clark Rundell
Orchestra: RNCM
2000-03-31 | Manchester (United Kingdom), Royal Northern College of Music
Conductor: Clark Rundell
Orchestra: RNCM
2000-03-28 | Manchester (United Kingdom), Royal Northern College of Music
Conductor: Clark Rundell
Orchestra: RNCM
2000-03-25 | Manchester (United Kingdom), Royal Northern College of Music
Conductor: Olver Knussen
Orchestra: Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
1995-10-20 | Birmingham (United Kingdom), Studio 1, BBC Pebble Mill
Conductor: Peter Keuschnig
1994-12-05 | Wien (Austria), Musikverein | national Premiere
Conductor: Oliver Knussen
Orchestra: Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
1994-04-15 | Birmingham (United Kingdom), Adrian Boult Hall
Conductor: Kaspar de Roo
1989-03-20 | Frankfurt/Main (Germany), Alte Oper | World Premiere
Greek is Mark-Anthony Turnage’s first opera, written at the invitation of Hans Werner Henze for his first Munich Biennale in 1988 and commissioned by the City of Munich. The première was a sensation, and Greek carried off two of the prestigious BMW Prizes, for Best Opera and Best Libretto. It was equally successful at the Edinburgh Festival later that year.

Greek is an operatic treatment of the play of the same name by Steven Berkoff, adapted by the composer and Jonathan Moore, the director of the first production. It is a translation of the Oedipus myth into the contemporary East End of London. Racism, violence and mass unemployment appear as metaphors for the plague that afflicts London, and form the background to the story of Eddy.

Greek Suite was commissioned by the Alte Oper, Frankfurt, for Ensemble Modern, the unique group of German musicians who played for the first performance of Greek in Munich. The Suite summarises the main events of the opera, using the two main characters, Eddy and the Café Manager’s wife, whose husband he kills and whom he then marries, only to discover the horrifying truth ten years later. The Suite is in four movements:

1. The initial scenes of the opera - in the pub, the breakfast chatter - are compressed into an instrumental introduction. Eddy leaves home.

2. Eddy wanders the streets of London and gets caught up in a riot. Eddy and the Café Manager have a violent but completely stylised fight: the insults hurled by the two men are replaced here by 2 horns (Eddy) and trombone (Café Manager). Eddy and the Café Manager’s wife come together after her husband’s brutal death.

3. Interlude between Acts I and II in which ten years and the couple’s increasing prosperity and happiness is portrayed. Their love aria. Mum and Dad’s song from Act I (“How will our Eddy fare?”) in an instrumental version.

4. The last scenes of the opera: Eddy has recognised his fate and runs out into the streets, demented. The other three characters (his wife, Mum and Dad) try to comfort him (“we only love” - sung here by Eddy and his wife). Eddy falls to the ground, apparently blinded. Eddy’s Funeral March.

(The opera itself ends, like the play, on a fiercely affirmative note: “It’s love I feel, it’s love, what matter what form it takes”.

Greek Suite was first performed by Mike Henry (Eddy) and Fiona Kimm (Wife) with Ensemble Modern conducted by Kaspar de Roo, at the Mozartsaal, in the Alte Oper on 30 March 1989.

Sally Groves
Auftragswerk : Commissioned by the Alte Oper, Frankfurt, for the Frankfurt Music Festival 1989
Content text:

I Prologue and Eddy's Farewell
II Fight and Love duet
III Interlude · Love Aria · Interlude
IV We Only Love and Funeral March

Performance duration: 25'0"
Publisher: Schott Music Ltd., London
Uraufführung : 20. März 1989 Frankfurt/Main, Alte Oper (D) Frankfurt Music Festival 1989 · Ensemble Modern; Fiona Kimm, mezzo soprano; Mike Henry, tenor · Dirigent: Kaspar de Roo
Year of composition: 1989
instrumentation: 1(pic.afl.bodhran).2(ca.log drum.break drum).2(Ebcl.bcl).ssax(asax.barsax.ratchet).0-2.1(2metal bars).1.0-2perc(crot, xyl, vib, mar, tub bells, antique sus cym, h.h, gong, tam-t, tamb, 5tom-t, log drum, military drum, b.d, pedal b.d, bodhran, ratchet, whip, cel)-hp.pno(epno.clav)-va.2vc(clav).db
Orchestra: Chamber Domaine
2011-07-09 | Oxford (United Kingdom), Jaqueline du Pre Centre
Conductor: Nicholas Kok
Orchestra: Psappha
2006-11-06 | Manchester (United Kingdom), Royal Northern College of Music, Bruntwood Theatre — 19.30 h
2002-06-21 | York (United Kingdom), York University
2001-07-25 | Aspen, CO (United States of America)
2001-07-23 | Aspen, CO (United States of America)
Conductor: Clark Rundell
Orchestra: RNCM
2000-03-31 | Manchester (United Kingdom), Royal Northern College of Music
Conductor: Clark Rundell
Orchestra: RNCM
2000-03-28 | Manchester (United Kingdom), Royal Northern College of Music
Conductor: Clark Rundell
Orchestra: RNCM
2000-03-25 | Manchester (United Kingdom), Royal Northern College of Music
Conductor: Olver Knussen
Orchestra: Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
1995-10-20 | Birmingham (United Kingdom), Studio 1, BBC Pebble Mill
Conductor: Peter Keuschnig
1994-12-05 | Wien (Austria), Musikverein | national Premiere
Conductor: Oliver Knussen
Orchestra: Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
1994-04-15 | Birmingham (United Kingdom), Adrian Boult Hall
Conductor: Kaspar de Roo
1989-03-20 | Frankfurt/Main (Germany), Alte Oper | World Premiere