Composer Luke Bedford believes that opera can and should respond to current events.
“It’s essential for the art form to speak about contemporary issues because we have contemporary audiences and that’s what’s on their minds,” Bedford, 39, said this week from England. “Whether it’s a new piece or one written 400 years ago, they can speak to us about something today. It’s important to explore that.”
Beford’s “Seven Angels” certainly does. The chamber opera, with a libretto by Glyn Maxwell, is a parable about climate change and the lack of meaningful global leadership responding to its causes. Bedford’s first opera, “Seven Angels” premiered in 2011 in Birmingham, England. It makes its U.S. debut tonight at Harris Concert Hall, in a presentation by the Aspen Music Festival.
The piece — to be conducted by Yves Abel with Aspen Opera Center singers and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble — follows the titular seven celestial beings, who fall through space into a dystopian wasteland. There, they can sense the apocalyptic events that occurred, and they transform into the people who lived in — and destroyed — a once-thriving world. The angels then tell the story of a king and queen who brought about the end of the world through their reckless greed and of their rebellious son who, with the help of a waitress, seeks to revive life through better stewardship.
Milton’s “Paradise Lost” provided inspiration for Bedford and Maxwell. The librettist once described his adaptation process as throwing the pages of Milton’s epic poem into the air and making a story out of the mess that fell to the ground.
“We took it as a starting point, but then made our own story up from…
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