New Opera Discovery (Parody)
United Press International
A previously unknown manuscript by the American composer John Cage was discovered Tuesday morning at the Biblioteca Nacional de Mocambique. During a routine maintenance check in the facility’s basement, a shelf was discovered to have broken spilling the contents of a small box onto the floor. The contents were picked up by Biblioteca employee Xavier Jamis a custodian at the main facility. Mr. Jamis gathered the papers together and brought them to the attention of Biblioteca Nacional de Mocambique’s General Director, Cabo Delagado, the country’s most respected scholar of late 20th century American serialism. Although no name was initially found with the manuscript, Director Delagado recognized immediately the handwriting as that of Mr. Cage and alerted the press as to the remarkable findings by the library’s janitor.
A quick perusal of the manuscript revealed the work to be in a genre rarely approached by Mr. Cage: an opera. Titled “The Bee” it is based on an unpublished screenplay of the same name by little known science fiction/horror author, Ahdam Baum a one-time resident of Mozambique of unknown extraction.
The Bee is set in the 1950’s and centers on the relationship between the beautiful young mystery writer, Armonia Mundi and her paramour, scientist and genius, Barry Bumble - youngest recipient of the Prix du Einstein. In a coincidence eerily relevant to one occurring today, Bumble foresees the major – and unexplained – world wide disappearance of communities of honey bees in the 21st century the results of which are both far reaching and disastrous.
Questioned by his lover as how he could possibly predict such an event with such certainty, Bumble reveals his long hidden secret project: a time traveling beehive. To convince her, of the future’s horros, Bumble tricks Mundi into ingesting the very special honey from the bees of this particular hive. The effect of the honey causes the couple to shink – painfully and slowly, their bodies contract and ooze until they “evolve” into bees themselves. The first act ends as the couple – borne on a prism from a window hanging crystal, enter Vall-Hiva.
The ensuing two acts find the couple time traveling between the mid 20th early 21st centuries in a desperate attempt to discover the cause of the nature bee disappearances. Is it borne of nature? Of man? During one of their time travels Bumble becomes stuck in the honey and unable to morph into his human body, becoming, in essence, an enormous bee. Neither entirely man, nor entirely insect, he dubs his new self: “Bumblebee.”
The work shows Cage in an unusually lyrical mode, his expansive orchestration calling for, in addition to a normal-sized symphonic orchestra, a battery of 16 prepared pianos, eight tape recording machines, a high school marching band,
boy choir and two ondes martinots and Theramin.
In an unprecedented move Mozambique’s national opera company, Opera l’Mozambique Nacionale, will be presenting the world premiere of The Bee in a season devoted entirely to operas about wildlife; Janacek’s The Cunning Little
Vixen; Tobias Picker’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox”; Stravinsky’s delightful “Le Rossignol” provides the meat to a sandwich of one acts, bookended by Jorge Martin’s “Tobermory” and “Sredni Vashtar.” The season ends with a controversial new staging of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly by famed zoologist Joan Embrey of the San Diego Zoo, making her directorial debut.
Noticeably missing from the announced repertoire is the recent opera “The Fly” by Howard Shore. Hearing about this season of unusually themed operas in a venue far removed from the operatic centres of the world, Mr. Shore and the
director of the world premiere of his opera, David Cronenberg offered to bring the production to Mozambique at no cost to the company. When asked why he declined, Opera l’Mozambique’s Artistic Director, Mbuzini Maccccccccccccaco responded“Both as a nation – and as a budding artistic venture, we are poor, struggling and still learning. Even so, we are neither that desperate nor are we idiots.”