Claire Trevor Theatre
University of California, Irvine
Midas (Colin Nesmith) washes himself clean of his lust for gold and riches
For Metamorphoses, playwright Mary Zimmerman adapted ten of Ovid’s original myths to tell stories about the human propensity for love, lust, greed, and faith. In accordance with ancient Greek mythology, characters in Metamorphoses experience change, redemption, forgiveness, and transformation at the will of the gods. Metamorphoses tells these stories through a combination of ancient and contemporary language and imagery. Most productions of this play incorporate water on stage as a symbol of transformation, however, in our production, we relied more heavily on lighting, sound, and music to symbolize important themes.
As composer, I blended classical instruments with electronic textures to build a world where the characters and the audience could explore the connection between myth and reality. I also paid close attention to recurring themes. For example, percussion rhythms would always indicate the presence of the gods or their influence over the mortals. The gods’ power was reinforced by larger-than-life sound effects and vocal processing by sound designer Matt Eckstein. Matt and I ensured that sound and music worked together to build a cohesive universe where mortals would experience profound transformations at the will of the gods.
Photography: Paul Kennedy
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Alcyone is Transformed
Alcyone is transformed by the Gods int a Halcyon bird. I composed a cymbal swell accompanied by timpani to thematically suggest that this transformation happened by the will of the Gods. At the apex of the musical crescendo that follows, Ceyx lifts his love Alcyone, and she “flies” across the stage. I imagined what wind would sound like if it were music, and I underscored her journey using an ethereal synth sound to represent the wind. We hear fragments of an upward melody played on the Lyre, as if it were being played by the wind itself.
The Wrath of Poseidon
Ceyx leaves Alcyone to find an oracle at sea. His trip takes a turn for the worse when Poseidon manifests and creates a massive storm. I composed a steady cadence of drum rhythms drums that become more complex as the storm intensified. The steady tempo hints at Poseidon’s unwavering resolve to cause damage. A chorus of strings intensifies the storm sequence even further, culminating in a massive tidal wave crash where Ceyx is overcome by the fury of Poseidon’s sea.
Myrrha is Cursed
Cursed by the goddess of love Aphrodite, Myrrha develops an incestual desire for her father. I composed a complimentary Lyre melody that sounded apprehensive, mysterious, and voyeuristic. The timpani represents Aphrodite’s enduring influence and is eventually joined by an electronic drum beat to give the sequence a sexual energy. At the apex of first crescendo, Myrrha’s father discovers what he has done and tries to kill her. Myrrha flees, but the gods soon find her. As punishment, she melts into a pool of water during the second musical crescendo.
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