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Carmilla : a ghost story for theatre

by Adam Yee (2016)

Work Overview

Set in the late 18th century, 'Carmilla' is opera in its etymological sense; it is a 'working through' of music and drama. More strictly, though it is a melodrama, a spoken text interwoven with almost continuous musical commentary.

This is not a radio play, however. The staging is vital to the storytelling. Locations and staging directions (most of which are paraphrased from the novella) are intended as suggestions only. 'Carmilla' could be performed in near darkness, illuminated by candles and lamps. 'Carmilla' could also be staged in miniature, using dolls, small handmade objects, dolls houses etc.

The opening chorale presents the entire harmonic argument of the opera. The thematic material is derived from Carmilla's speech 'In the rapture of my enormous humiliation…' and is developed anagrammatically, just as her name is transformed in the novella (e.g. Mircalla, Millarca).

Much of the score relates to the proportion set 1:2:4:7.

Work Details

Year: 2016

Instrumentation: For 5 actors and 6 instrumentalists: flute, tenor saxophone, violin, cello, harmonium/organ (right hand) doubling quartertone glockenspiel, piano.

Duration: 60 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: 'Carmilla' was a project of Kle Zeyn Theatre

First performance: 15 Dec 16. La Mama Theatre, Carlton Vic

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
was inspired by several other artworks - principally Karl Dreyer's 1932 film Vampyr, Britten's 'The Turn of the Screw' and most importantly Hans Otte's piano cycle 'Das Buch der Klänge'.

Revised 2018.

Performances of this work

13 May 18: La Mama Theatre, Carlton, Vic

15 Dec 16: La Mama Theatre, Carlton Vic

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