BRETT DEAN (b.1961): Bliss.

Catalogue Number: 02R050

Label: ABC Classics

Reference: 481 1820

Format: CD

Price: $35.98

No Longer Available

Description: Dean's opera is an adaptation of Australian author Peter Carey's blackly comedic, satirical fantasy fable. There is a distinct Australian-ness to Carey's hectically inventive grotesquerie - Australian humor is characteristically quick-witted and clever, expressed in misleadingly rude and earthy terms (vide, inter alia, Barry Humphries' memorable characters) - and this is nicely captured in librettist Amanda Holden's skillful condensation of the tumultuous book. In the middle of celebrating his successes, an advertising executive, Harry Joy, has a heart attack and dies. When he comes back to life he realises, or imagines, that he is in Hell, and has been living there all along. His ghastly, immoral family and professional colleagues, and some surreal events serve amply to reinforce this impression. In Act 2 Harry tries to redeem himself by dismissing an important client who knowingly produces carcinogenic products; he seeks solace with a call-girl, Honey, who unexpectedly turns out to be a kind of new-age healer with whom he falls in love. Act three begins in the deepest circle of Hell - the asylum to which Harry's family have committed him. In a series of dark, complex scenes the denizens of Hell dissipate or self-immolate - literally in one case - and Harry ends up in an elysian paradise with his hippy redeemer, Honey. The music adapts with quicksilver adroitness to these bizarreries, remaining coherent and approachable throughout. Dean has his distinct stylistic signatures, one of which is the ability to abruptly resolve his native extended tonality into episodes of driven, ostinato-propelled, post-minimal and much more tonal activity as a dramatic device, and this technique recurs to considerable effect here, for instance in Harry's bizarre 'ballad of Little Titch', a fiction told to distract two sadistic policemen who refuse to believe the truth that an elephant sat on Harry's car, or the Dies irae that accompanies Harry's discovery of his incestuous, drug-deaiing son and his daughter, and his unfaithful wife, or the family dialogue in which Harry's relatives decide to have him committed to an asylum, and a number of other pivotal events. Dean introduces atmospheric references to popular idioms - smoky nightclub jazz music for the call-girl's entrance, echoes of psychedelia for her revelation as a pantheistic hippy healer; circus music for the elephant scene; a palm court band for a restaurant-purgatory. Subtle electro-acoustic sound design adds layers of texture to this brilliant, warped pandemonium of an existential morality play. 3 CDs. Libretto included. Lorina Gore (sopranos), Peter Coleman-Wright, Barry Ryan (baritones), Opera Australia Chorus, Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra; Elgar Howarth.


(requires cookies enabled)


Need to register? Click here.

(requires cookies enabled)

Your cart is currently empty.