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Swing

Opera

♪ (Dainius Gintalas) D. G.: For me, the title Swing associates both with energy expressing rhythmic and strong pulsation of life and with the dizzy swinging between the universally acceptable sphere of experiences and the one condemned by the society; also, with a form of group sex, more broadly – a modern bacchanalia, or, put simply – an orgy.

♫ (Jonas Sakalauskas) J. S.: From a musical standpoint – it has nothing to do with the big band music that flourished at the beginning of the 20th century.

D. G.: Opera and orgy – sounds quite unexpected, doesn’t it? We would have no difficulty finding orgies in literature, cinema, or painting, but are there such examples in the history of opera? Do you know any?

J. S.: It would be difficult to trace obvious instances of orgies; however, acts resembling orgies can be seen in Charles Gounod’s opera Faust, with its Walpurgis Night in the third act.

D. G.: To prevent any ambiguities for the viewers, I hurry to say that in the opening and closing acts of the opera the bacchanalia is presented in a form of Europe’s erotic avant-garde that is in literary French language and its slang.

J. S.: French phrases have even dictated the musical language of the opera.

D. G.: Well, since we have a bacchanalia, there must be Bacchus or Dionysus. Our main character is an optimistic businessman and a blood donor, whose heart is divided in two – one contains love for his wife, whereas another – love for the orgy. Somewhat absurd and complex psychic division, isn’t it?

J. S.: I think that certain division exists in all of us, while the businessman presented in the opera expresses both Apollonian and Dionysian nature, however, as you know, the former is characteristic of the external world, while the latter is following our inner lives. It is also reflected in the musical structure of the piece, where traditional harmonic structures are replaced with complex compositional elements.

D. G.: Situation gets even more complicated when our Dionysus finds out he has HIV… Then his vital rhythm is drastically destroyed, and his horror-stricken consciousness is haunted with macabre surrealist visions.

J. S.: The return to original situation is expressed through concentric musical form: ABC DE C1B1A. Sections repeating themselves in cyclic musical circle are modified, depending on the shifting emotional state of the characters.

D. G.: Eventually, conscience-stricken mutual acquaintance and husband’s ally doctor reveals his secret to his wife. Alone at home, the wife takes sedatives and delves into a nightmare saturated with imagery of orgies. She wakes up with a scream of orgasm and horror, shouting: “Catfish!!!”

J. S.: Essentially, changes and drama of the big world also take place in the world of a small man: structuralists have noted long ago that certain uniform archetypal forms exist, manifesting themselves both in works of music and in works of nature…