Celestial Excursions

LCD 1007CD LCD 1007CD

2005 release. Following the ground-breaking work, Dust (LCD 1006CD), godfather of experimental opera Robert Ashley returns with Celestial Excursions. Ashley's endeavor explores remarkably uncharted territory -- the kind of language that is common among "old" people who talk all the time or not at all, to anyone passing by or to themselves. The opera premiered at the Hebbel Theater in Berlin, before coming to The Kitchen for its U.S. premiere in April 2003. Celestial Excursions delves into the wild intermingling of reminiscence, regret, love, nightmare, old sayings, and songs on the radio -- all seemingly to no purpose, except for the operatic end of relentless speed and precision in ensemble singing and the possible stage magic inherent in illusion, hallucination, and a physically changed state of the senses. The opera's originality lies in a use of a new vocal technique Ashley has built over the last 20 years, which enables several stories to be heard at the same time. In an intricate vocal system, a principal voice is "chased" by other voices whose parts rotate in sequence in a given order. The result of this technique creates a complex jungle of voices, delivered with an extraordinary rhythmic intensity rarely heard in ensemble singing. As for all of Ashley's latest works, the orchestra music of Celestial Excursions was composed in the computer-synthesizer studio. All the voices and the orchestra (on multi-track tape or on disc) are processed again during the concert in order to match the sound of the opera to the performance space. And for this CD release, Ashley went back to the studio with live recordings to rework the piece, extending the orchestra in the final act. Personnel: Sam Ashley, Thomas Buckner, Jacqueline Humbert, Joan La Barbara, Robert Ashley - singers; Joan Jonas - choreography; Robert Ashley and Tom Hamilton - electronic orchestra; Tom Hamilton - mixing and live electronics; "Blue" Gene Tyranny - piano; David Moodey - lighting design; Cas Boumans - technical coordination/sound system engineer; Melanie Lipka - stage manager. Double CD comes in a jewel box and includes the 104-page libretto in slipcase.