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Agreed is a brand new opera by Howard Moody featuring a cast of professional singers, a chorus drawn from the local community, Glyndebourne Youth Opera, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Glyndebourne Youth Orchestra.
The cast includes:
KORIMAKO Tom Scott-Cowell ELIN Nazan Fikret ALEX Michael Wallace KRONOS Zara McFarlane MAYA Louise Winter SPIRIT OF ELIN Ellyn Hebron
Fifteen years ago, Alex was elected leader by the people.
Wanting control and power over the resources of Orientis, he proposed a new law, a division into two. It was agreed and voted in by his counsel. As a result, all those not born in Orientis were sent to live in Aquila. This included Maya, his own mother.
The action begins when the leader of Aquila’s peace movement is killed on the shores of Orientis.
A song sounds, caught by Alex’s daughter Elin in a dream. It is the song her grandmother used to sing. She questions her father, Alex, but he is dismissive, telling her to forget the song and her dream. The people are gathering, waiting for their arrival.
The people of Orientis gather uneasily. No one knows who to trust. Rumours fly around about a death the night before. Aquila’s ambassadors arrive to demand a replacement from Orientis, a token of safety between the islands. Elin volunteers and is stopped immediately by Alex who is terrified of losing her.
Maya has arrived back for the first time with the people from Aquila, adding to Alex’s panic. Deeply shaken, he hurries the ambassadors and his attendants off to discuss a new agreement.
The people wait for the outcome. Someone spots Maya and recognises her. A group of gossips share memories of her before she left. Maya expresses how she was sent away to live in Aquila. Deeply hurt, angry and not wanting Elin to grow up in the middle of this conflict, she never returned.
Elin meets Korimako from Aquila and they fall in love.
Alex declares that a new agreement has been proposed. A boundary is drawn through the water that no one is allowed to cross. Where before they had been allowed to move freely between the two places, they are now completely cut off forever. The agreement is signed by the leading representative of Aquila’s ambassadors.
As Aquila depart, a small group spot Korimako standing with Elin. They tell him to leave quickly and follow them back to Aquila. Korimako tells Elin to listen for the sound of his flute each night across the water.
Once they have gone, Elin learns that her grandmother was there but has now left in the boats back to Aquila. The new agreement means she must lose hope of ever seeing her again.
Heartbroken at having lost both Korimako and her grandmother, she longs to escape. One night, she wades out into the water and begins to swim, following Korimako’s song. They meet at the divide and spend the night together in his boat, parting at morning before they can be caught.
The second time they try to meet, attendants at the border spot Korimako’s boat and arrest him. Korimako tells them that Elin is in the water, begging them to rescue her. They refuse to listen or believe him, taking him to Orientis to be punished by Alex. Lost in the water, Elin dies.
From what follows, unrest spirals and the tears of the people form rivers to the sea, breaking up the land. The conscience of the people and their leader is forced to the surface. Pushed to accountability, the song must sound again.
Synopsis by Anna Moody
Composer’s note by Howard Moody
The sound of the sea lies at the core of the music of Agreed. I became haunted by the idea of an ancient ancestral memory carried by song across the waters. A melody kept reappearing in my musical imagination that became the repeated voice of the piece, as played initially by Korimako on the flute made from the bone of the victim of terrorist attack.
Anna’s dramatic development of an intense family drama opened up exciting possibilities for musical characterisation. The poetry and rhythm of her writing gave every motivation to compose, creating a tragic and beautiful story shaped as much by the voice of the community as by the leading characters.
The heart of the project was to involve an inter-generational community group as chorus. I have always been inspired by the way that Verdi did this, but I wanted the chorus to be at the forefront of the drama. This was an opportunity to write chorus recitative as well as a sequence of big numbers, ensuring that we hear their critical dramatic voice that responds to the events and expresses their wish for a fairer world.
‘The Spirits’ offered an opportunity to bring a different style of singing and playing to Glyndebourne, using an exciting mix of improvising musicians from various musical sound worlds, together with the amazing artistry of jazz singer Zara McFarlane. Monteverdi was a strong inspiration for their music as I found myself wanting to weave a freer musical language into the structures of a contemporary opera score.
It has been a pleasure to work with Simon Iorio from the first moment that Lucy Perry [Glyndebourne’s Head of Education] put us in a room together. Following the success of our last collaboration on my opera Push, Simon’s instinct for music and drama is exactly what this piece calls for. As I step into the role of conductor and have to leave the process of creation behind, it is thrilling to be able to work with such an openminded team. We all share Glyndebourne’s belief that the wonder and power of opera is to be experienced from the inside out with as many communities as possible.
Howard Moody Composer
Librettist's note by Anna Moody
'This is a story that needs to be told'
This is a story that needs to be told. The incredible gift of this project is that we can hear it expressed by the voice of our community today. It is so present, so close and yet the characters also speak from the past. To tell it, I wanted to write a text that uproots ancient myths of the land as much as the energy of our political climate.
This is a story of love, of Elin’s immense courage to swim across forbidden seas at night. She follows her heart with a strong sense of who she is and of justice. It is this power which connects to the young chorus and her story sets free their voices. I wanted to capture the vital instinct and intensity in following one’s heart despite the risks, binding their language to the currents of the sea, the danger and thrill in being lifted, lighted, filled, pushed and torn away.
This is a story of conscience carried through generations as the wounds of a family are re-opened and set in new forms. The family spans three generations, as does the chorus who surround them. I wanted to express the unravelling that happens when links of trust between these generations are broken. The word ‘undone’ recurs, voiced by the community who suffer the effects of ‘trust woken up undone’ and mourn that ‘we were one, now undone.’
This is a story of the sea and the land. Both destructive and healing, its currents and borders reflect everything that happens, whether that be Maya’s scars or the rivers that Alex wades through when pushed to accountability. Expressed by the voice of Kronos and the music of the Spirits, each character has a different relationship to this world. It was liberating to draw on motions of the landscape as dramatic momentum whilst also finding inspiration in its endless possibility for change and the aspiration to become ‘one current’.
Finally, this is a story of song. Where events make resolution impossible, it is the song heard by Elin in her dream at the beginning that must sound again. What was broken cannot be mended but when this song comes full circle, there is space to voice hope for a more truthful and expressive world, a more open heart.
Agreed is made possible with the support of MariaMarina Foundation, The Chalk Cliff Trust, The Charles Peel Charitable Trust, John S Cohen Foundation, The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, The Leigh Trust, Newby Trust, The Radcliffe Trust, RVW Trust, Jules and Cheryl Burns, Martin and Dani Clarke, Wendy and Nicholas Heesom, Davina Hodson, Joanna Dickson Leach, Mr Frederik Paulsen, George and Patti White, Mark and Rosamund Williams, and in memory of Jeffrey Vaughan Martin through Glyndebourne’s New Generation Programme.
Glyndebourne’s education programme is supported using public funding by Arts Council England