PROPHET AND LOSS
opera in 2 acts
Libretto by the composer
Commissioned by the Oundle Music Trust for the Oundle International Festival
A coffee shop. Nessa encounters a waiter (Naya'il) who interrupts her business trying to practice English. Distracted, she drops a cup and a burst of unearthly music follows. Distracted, she gives him her e mail to get rid of him. She visits her terrifying infirm father, Rolfus, so that she can be briefed: though retired he insists on keeping hold of the company, and informs her of a natural disaster caused by his meddling. During this she is distracted by enigmatic sung messages (the voice of Naya'il) on her blackberry. Rolfus rails at Nessa's choice of husband, a weakling, who has been paid off to disappear. We see, enacted, the raising of her children, Syke and Fracto, who have become unruly and hostile adolescents, by an employed assistant Mattie. At a board meeting, environmental catastrophe looms, but Nessa insists Husk is 'too big to fail'. All the time she is bombarded by distracting messages. A mysterious emissary (Naya'il) announces Rolfus's death. At Rolfus's funeral a priest (Naya'il) leads the service, which is disrupted by the late arrival of Nessa, and then by her phone ringing. It is the dead Rolfus, who berates her from beyond the grave. Panicked, she grabs her sons and jumps into a taxi.
A mountain village. Nessa is incognito. Fracto, for an internet cafe, alerts Syke to a worldwide search for the chairman of Husk Inc. A tour guide (Naya'il) promises a tour to a retreat, but runs over a village girl and disappears, pursued by Syke and Fracto. The villagers turn on Nessa and cast her into prison. She banishes a vision of Rolfus, but the prison guard (Naya'il) informs her that the child needs an organ transplant to survive. The doctor (Naya'il) saves the child, and Nessa donates other organs to help the sick. We see Rolfus, in hell, boiling in oil. Mattie arrives searching for Syke and Fracto, who arrive with gear to spring their mother from prison. The press appears, drawn by stories of a miraculous healer. Nessa, now just a head, is wheeled in by Naya'il and is recognized as the missing chairman of Husk. She bequeaths the company to her sons, before the final, ultimate sacrifice. Naya'il gets messages from the beyond.
Premiere: 20th July 2011. St Peter's Church, Oundle, Northants
Director: Alastair Boag
Designer: Rebecca Desmond
Oundle Festival ensemble c. Alexander Walker
Victoria Simmonds, Derek Lee-Ragin, Edwin Hawkes, Tristan Stocks, Adrian Ward, Alison Charlton-West
Nessa Husk (active chairman of Husk Inc.)- mezzo-soprano
Rolfus Husk (her father, Chairman mentor of Husk Inc.)- bass
Syke (Nessa's son - 18)- baritone
Fracto (Nessa's son - 16)- tenor
Naya'il (an enigmatic figure)-counter -tenor
Mattie (Nessa's assistant)-soprano
a semi-chorus: including a secretary, two tourists, three press corps, a woman, pilgrims.
a children's chorus: including Young Syke, Young Fracto, board members, Gili - a mountain child, another child
small offstage chorus
Two violins, viola, 'cello, bass, harp, guitar, accordion, percussion, piano