Hi Folks, well it’s done. The new song is actually a complete Scene in Act I of The Mapmaker’s Opera. You can listen to it here, or go to the Audio page on this web site and click on Track 4.
First, some non-essential trivia. The bell sounds that you hear at the outset of the audio were recorded by me whilst on holidays a few years ago, on New Year’s Eve, at a church in the wine commune of the Côte de Beaune region of Burgundy, France. The commune is called Pernand-Vergellesses. Very rarely do you get the right conditions (no traffic noise, planes overhead, dogs barking etc.) to get an audio sample this clean. Anyway, I like it.
OK, down to business: this whole scene is a bit opera-like, and deliberately so, for three critical reasons.
Firstly, the scene – both in Béa’s novel and the Musical adaptation is really the crux of the story – at least that part of it that is not about Diego and Sofia’s relationship. Secondly, the character of Edward Nelson is sung by a baritone necessitating a seriousness of voice that befits an operatic baritone weight of vocal delivery. And lastly, the ‘Coros d’Indios’ (the henequen field workers) are singing sections of both the ‘Dies Irae’ (‘Day of the Dead’) in Latin and the ‘Kyrie’ (from the Mass) in Spanish (not at the same time, of course). Or, put another way, this is not the lightest moment in the Musical!
There are other things that happen, action-wise, on stage that you can’t see in this audio demo, which have a subsequent and profound effect on the unfolding story – but I’m not going to reveal any detail about this, as there would otherwise be no need to come and see the Musical to find out what really happens!
So what is happening in the story, at this moment, that compels Edward Nelson sing this lament (soliliquay)?
It is early evening. By lamplight, the henequen field workers (Yucatec Maya and Mestizos predominantly) are returning home after the cruelty and hardship of another day’s labour in the cactus plantation fields. There are children, as young as eight years of age, being carried on the backs of exhausted mothers and fathers also consigned to work in the intolerable heat and conditions for farming the henequen plant for the rich plantation owners (‘Hacendados’).
Nelson observes the deplorable sight from his verandah, wracked by both grief on the scale of human suffering he is observing, and personal guilt in his inability to find a way to intercede or change the situation.
He recalls a meeting with Don Victor Blanco earlier that day in Don Victor’s office (on the audio demo, this duologue is severely truncated) as a flashback.
Brought back to reality, Nelson then sings this arioso (‘Madness Rules’). The return of the ‘Dies Irae’ marks a horrific realisation for Nelson from action that occurs onstage at the conclusion of his singing. He takes his lamp and returns indoors.
The scene ends with young Diego Clemente appearing from behind a tree who, unbeknownst to all, has observed the entire action that has just taken place.
We hope you enjoy this extended piece of music and words from The Mapmaker’s Opera.
Kevin and Victor