BRIAN CURRENT (b.1972): Airline Icarus.
Catalogue Number: 12Q068
Description: Current's opera examines the fragile, precarious nature of our technology of flight and its relationship to the hubris and denial of danger necessary for such an undertaking in the first place. Initially inspired by the shooting down of a Korean airliner in 1983, but lent added relevance and poignancy by the recent Malaysian air disasters, the piece consists of fifteen short scenes in which a random assemblage of characters thrust together by chance on an airplane interact superficially and reflect on the strange, unnatural situation in which they find themselves. Little by little, something starts to happen, and it becomes apparent that the omnipresent peril of flight is about to be manifested in disaster; the Icarus metaphor is invoked, and finally the plane disappears. Current's score is immensely active, a recurring characteristic of his music; at times the frenetic activity reaches a pitch of intensity that vividly evokes the mounting insecurity and eventually panic of the passengers. Repetitive rhythms, not used in the manner of minimalism but rather underpinning and anchoring a complex counterpoint of conflicting melodic lines and gestures, propel the music headlong into its chaotic conclusion and provide a cumulative climax to the unexpectedly transcendent epilogue. The chilling subject is handled with an ironic touch, pointing up the absurdity of our belief that there is anything 'normal' about travelling at 500 miles per hour, five miles from the ground while making small talk and worrying about what complete strangers think of us, and the work is consequently less dark, more darkly humorous than one might expect, an effect enhanced by the liveliness of the music. Libretto available on-line. Carla Huhtanen (soprano), Krisztina Szabó (mezzo), Graham Thomson (Tenor), Alexander Dobson (baritone), Chamber Choir and Ensemble; Brian Current.