Adrien

The origin

July 31, 1944: An allied reconnaissance aircraft took off from the airfield at Borgo. A few hours later, his mission accomplished, he crashed into the Mediterranean. This plane was piloted by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. So disappeared the author of The Little Prince, Night Flight, Southern Mail, and many other works that made him a world-wide famous writer.

July 1994: a commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of Saint-Exupéry's death is planned in Corsica, including the presentation of two operas: "Volo di notte" by Luigi Dallapiccola, and the creation of "Adrien", an opera specifically composed for the occasion. For gloomy reasons of political shenanigans, budgets promised will never be allocated and the project will not be realized. Seventeen years pass ...


Time of a work

In the summer of 1993 I was asked to compose the music of this opera. I had to work very quickly, with an extremely short deadline, and nearly 15 minutes of music were already written when the project was stopped, due to lack of funds. The work remained in the state, stored in a cardboard box at the bottom of my closet. It's only recently, after a move in February 2010, that the imperative desire to read, revise and complete this work came to my mind. I regularly write without being commissioned, or at least with no guarantee of performance, but it's the first time that I start such a large sized work, with no other considerations than an inexhaustible need to write. This marks unambiguously the personal, both human and symbolic importance that I place on this work. I plan to write it entirely before starting to propose it to producers, conductors and other opera houses. 


The story

The libretto, written by Emmanuel Gérard, is mainly based on Southern Mail, taking up and developing recurrences of Saint-Exupéry's oeuvre, such as childhood, sources or stars. Two couples are mirrored in the center of the narrative: Antoine and Armand, Adrien and Alice. Antoine and Adrien are both pilots: the first, older, experienced, is mentor of the second.

It is, foremost, a lyrical play describing the bonds of love, friendship, and passion of the stars that connect all these characters. A tragedy occurs, implacable, irreversible, and the memory replaces the expectancy, without further disruption.


Language

The story is set in the early twentieth century. Therefore I refer to the colors of the Second Viennese School, for the sake of authenticity and historical relevance. I use essentially a polymodal writing, often organized in series. The overall, arched shape of the opera is composed of multiple and various sub-structures (lament, cantilena, lullaby, etc.). Voices are treated according to four types of declamation: freely spoken, rhythmic speech, sprechgesang and usual singing. Symbolism is omnipresent in the opera, whether by motivic references, key intervals, timbral signatures, symbolic numbers and other encryptions.

(to be continued)
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