(2010), a site-specific promenade opera for soprano, tenor & baritone, piano, ‘cello, clarinet & percussion
An Eighteenth century court. The soprano Eurydice prepares to perform a scene from her lover Orpheus’ latest opera. But in fact, this is their farewell performance, for the visiting Archduke Hades, is luring Orpheus away from Eurydice to be his court composer. Eurydice performs, presenting a scene in which Eurydice, bitten by a viper, falls to her death.
After a few moments, Eurydice regains consciousness and regains her feet. She leads the audience in a promenade into the performance space for Part Two
A nineteenth century salon where the audience is met by Hades, now in the character of the Impressario who greets them as patrons of his Opera Company. It is a gala evening, hosted by Hades, at which La Signora (Eurydice) is to perform an extract from an opera composed a hundred years ago by Orpheus, the composer. But La Signora is indisposed and won’t perform. Hades and the nineteenth century Orpheus argue – Hades is angry that Orpheus is not composing, while Orpheus feels Eurydice needs rest and recuperation. Suddenly La Signora appears and launches into her aria, which descends into chaos. She collapses. Orpheus and Hades help her out of the room as quickly as possible.
The audience follow Hades and Orpheus down a corridor in which disembodied sounds of Eurydice are heard.
A hospital, early twenty-first century. The soprano Eurydice is in a hospital bed, linked up to a life support machine. She has been in a coma for a long time now, with no hope of recovery. Orpheus sits by her bedside hoping that by playing her recordings she might come back to him. The doctor Hades offers little hope:
I cannot make people live.
My purpose is
to smooth the path to death.
Just as yours, composer, is
to shape the silence before applause.
Orpheus accepts the inevitable and the life-support machine is switched off. Unseen by Orpheus and Hades, Eurydice rises up from the bed singing. She exits, followed by Orpheus; Hades remains lost in his own thoughts.
Cast & instrumental ensemble
Followers was composed by Julian Philips as part of his Composer Residency at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, in 2006-9. It was created with writer Simon Christmas, based on the Orpheus myth, and devised for alternative spaces around Glyndebourne: the Organ Room, the Old Green Room and the Ebert Room. The first development phase was in October 2007 with Director, Olivia Fuchs and the first two scenes were given a workshop performance, with the working title of Ghosts with an audience who then took part in a discussion with the creative team. In August 2008 the third part was explored in a 4-day workshop at Glyndebourne, but was not given a public performance.
In 2011, the chamber opera was performed in full as a promenade performance around Glyndebourne, moving from the Organ Room to the Old Green Room and finishing in the newly refurbished Ebert Room. Followers was directed by Frederick Wake-Walker.