A documentary video opera. Part I: Hindenburg / Part II: Bikini / Part III: Dolly

Duration: 60'

for vocal quintet: 2S,3T and ensemble: perc(4):2vib/2SD/2pedal kick dr/susp.cym/lg gong-2pft-string quartet-pre-recorded tape Akai 24 track hard disk unit or DA-88 tape playback and high-quality video projection equipment required REQUIRES SOUND DESIGN AND AMPLIFICATION

World Premiere
5/12/2002 Museumsquartier, Vienna Beryl Korot, video / Ensemble Modern / Synergy Vocals / Brad Lubman

Music Text
documentary material

Composer Notes

Three Tales is a three act digital video opera in which historical film and video footage, videotaped interviews, photographs, text and specially constructed stills are recreated on the computer, transferred back to video tape and projected on one large 32 foot screen. Sixteen musicians and singers take their place onstage along with the screen.

Three Tales recalls three well known events from the early, middle and late 20th century: Hindenberg, Bikini, and Dolly. Each of these reflects on the growth and implications of technology during the 21st century from early air transport and world wars to the current ethical debate about the future of our species. This debate about the physical, ethical and religious nature of the expanding technological environment has continued and grown pervasive since 1945.

The first tale, Hindenburg, tells of the zeppelin’s explosion in Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1937. The unambiguously positive attitude towards technology is presented through newscasters of the era. The second, Bikini, is based on footage, photographs, and text from the Atom bomb tests at Bikini atoll in 1946-1954. It also tells of the dislocation and relocation of the Bikini people, living totally outside the Western world which determined their fate. The third tale, Dolly, takes its title from the adult sheep cloned in Scotland in 1997. It deals extensively with the idea of the human body as a machine, genetic engineering, technological evolution and robotics.
—Steve Reich