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19.10.12

From Hell's Heart

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Charles T. Downey, ‘And God Created Great Whales’ by Rinde Eckert at Clarice Smith Center
Washington Post, October 19, 2012

Writing an opera is hard enough. Now imagine you are suffering from a degenerative disease that is destroying your ability to remember anything. This is the premise of “And God Created Great Whales,” a fascinating multimedia theater piece by singer and composer Rinde Eckert. In a revision that has been stripped down to its essentials — two singing actors, recorded sound, piano and ukulele — Eckert has brought the work to the Clarice Smith Center, seen on Wednesday night.

Nathan, played by Eckert himself, wakes up with no awareness of who or where he is. Finding a tape recorder around his neck, he pushes play and hears his own voice explain that he is at work on an operatic adaptation of Melville’s “Moby-Dick.” The voice patiently explains how he is to proceed, using a system of tape recorders to help him keep track of his ideas and progress in composition. As the performance proceeds, Nathan has to listen to more and more of the recording hung around his neck, a sign, it tells him, that his condition is worsening. [Continue reading]
Rinde Eckert, And God Created Great Whales
With Nora Cole
Clarice Smith Center

SEE ALSO:
Ben Brantley, A Composer Who’s Losing His Memory, Hopelessly at Sea (New York Times, February 15)

Margo Jefferson, As Melville Told Marlene, the Muse Leads the Music (New York Times, September 18, 2000)

Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (originally published on October 18, 1851)

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