DIVE: Odes for Lighea

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DIVE is a sonic theatre experience that brings to life a story about love, intimacy, and the deepest needs of men and women. Two Sicilians meet in a dark seedy bar in 1938: a young journalist (Matthew Gouveia) who has just lost both his girlfriends, and an old and eminent classics professor (Earl Pastko). As the professor grows to trust the young man, he reveals the secret that haunts him: his encounter with a radiant, amoral, Greek-speaking mermaid. This mermaid, in the guise of several females (Fides Krucker) accompanies them vocally through the darkly humorous text, forcing them to consider their own desires, connection to the past and their ability to follow the wild and divine. Through its electroacoustic score, and an immersive set-up, DIVE submerges the viewer in the world of the story, creating a visceral experience that leaves each member of the audience searching for their own mermaid in our contemporary world.
DIVE has been developed with the continued support of Good Hair Day Productions (Julie Sits Waiting, Girl with no door on her mouth). DIVE premiered in the summer of 2015 at the ArrayMusic Studio in Toronto

 ‘DIVE: Odes for Lighea’ is a full length CD recording of the music for the opera/sonic theatre project, ‘DIVE’, which premiered in Toronto in July 2015.  Based on Giuseppe de Lampedusa’s ‘The Professor and the Mermaid’, it is a semi-fantastical portrayal, set in fascist Italy, of love, awakening, and possibly madness, told through the love between a classics Professor and a mermaid.

‘DIVE: Odes to Lighea’ has the journey of the Mermaid, performed by Fides Krucker, as its dramatic narrative core. She is the musical presence that sonically animates the opera, and the music and vocal parts have been scored in very close collaboration with Krucker. In the course of the recording the Mermaid passes through multiple stylistic disguises: a howling banshee sonically crushing a crowd of fascists; a devastated then furious jilted “Tata” singing melodies derived from Greek folk music; a wry old crone of a waitress informing a young male lead that he’s been dumped through a crumbling descending folk melody; a seductive young waitress in a seedy bar sings a Waits/Mingus/Partch rendition of clients debits (actually the many explorers who were her former lovers); an ecstatic fascist maid improvises over a time-stretched speech by Mussolini; and finally the divine and wild being herself, seducing over lilting ambient melodic waves, inspiring awe and wonder in calling into action the ocean itself with Straussian majesty, and then exploding into the towering wild rage of a storm.

These music works use a wide range of styles and sonic techniques:
a speech by Mussolini and his ecstatic crowd is crushed by a mighty mermaid ‘roar’, washing out into waves, gulls, a buoy bell; traditionally scored and electroacoustic Arias; fat analog synths and wolves; Crystal Baschet, Vibraphone and Mbira; Cloud Bowls’ (glass instruments designed and built by American microtonal pioneer Harry Partch); a remix of Persian traditional master improvisers; ambient melodies for mbira, vibraphone & dulcimer.

‘DIVE’ was composed in close collaboration with Fides Krucker.  We researched sonic material from wolves and whales to the northern Italian Tarantella tradition. Fides improvised to soundscapes and bed tracks and these improvisations could be layered up, or kept fully intact.

* Fascism & the Wild in ‘DIVE: Odes for Lighea’: a short essay by Nik Beeson

* ‘Ten Questions on DIVE for Nik Beeson’ – BarczaBlog (July 23, 2015)

*‘Mussolini vs the Mermaid’ – BarczaBlog (July 29, 2015)



Compositions & Sound Design by Nik except: melody on ‘Obituary’ & ‘Lament’ and vocal composition on ‘The Storm’ by Fides Krucker; improvisations as noted; ‘Giovinezza’ by Giuseppe Blanc.
Text by Richard Sanger except ‘Sailors’ Chorus’ in ‘Lighea’s Lovers’ adapted by Nik Beeson ; ancient Greek in ‘Lighea’s Idyll’ & ‘The Storm’ from Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’.
Live recording on Pastry Shop, Lighea’s Lovers & Fides’ vocal tracks recorded by Rick Sacks at Array Music Studio.
Rick Sacks – percussion and vibraphone; Rob Clutton – Acoustic Bass; Neil Gardiner – piano; Nik Beeson – all the other stuff.
Mastered by Michael White at Voltage Controlled Recordings.
Mixed & Produced by Nik Beeson.

Great gratitude to Rick Sacks, Jeremy Mimnagh, the Beeson & Krucker Clans, Michael Armstrong & the DIVE crew

Video by Jeremy Mimnagh

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A big thanks to the folks at the Ontario Arts Council
for their generous funding support for this project.