Stephane Mayer rides the world premiere of Rocking Horse Winner
by Drew Rowsome -
"There are a few little bubbly moments here and there but for the most part this a very dark summation of two quite demented characters," says musician Stéphane Mayer of Tapestry Opera's world premiere Rocking Horse Winner. The DH Lawrence short story The Rocking Horse Winner is familiar to most and its haunting quality does make it a natural for an opera.
"It's an adaptation done by Anna Chatterton [Gertrude and Alice]," says Mayer. "There's a few different things, the main character, Paul the little boy, has been brought up to be slightly older. He's around 18 or 19 so it takes a different look at a mother and son relationship that's a bit more twisted and darker than the original. And in this production, the voices of the house from the original story is a chorus ensemble - they take quite a hefty role in this production, terrorizing Paul and driving him to this brink of insanity."
Returning to the 'few bubbly moments, Mayer says, "There are a few scenes where we get to go into the head of Paul and see him riding his horse and getting his prophetic visions. The music lightens up for that and we see the imaginary racing horse happening in front of him. We even have a full size rocking horse for this, an adult size rocking horse built just for this show. I think they chose this story because it has so many possibilities for musical settings and being a short story it doesn't have time to bore an audience: the running time of the opera is an hour and it gets its message across very effectively."
To anyone intimidated by the concept of opera, Mayer says, "I have to say that there's this whole thing in classical music for the past hundred years to get away from tonal music and if it sounds like shit you've reached your goal. But composer Gareth Williams has created a score that is easily accessible, its a challenging score for us as performers but the way it comes out to an audience is that it sounds like catchy tunes and innovative textures. People will really enjoy listening to this."