In this opera set in London in 1945, Michael is a twelve year old boy whose father has recently been killed in a bombing raid. The other principal character is Kurt Schwitters, founder of the Dadaist art movement, who at this time is penniless and has only two years to live. Both man and boy obsessively collect bus tickets. Schwitters finds tickets in random places and uses them in his collages to emphasise a natural state of human chaos. The young Michael, however, has a burning desire to create some sort of order out of the chaos in the aftermath of the war and so strives to find enough tickets to put together a full set. One day on a bus, Michael and Kurt make a grab for the same discarded ticket...
It is London, 1945. The war is over. Much of Britain is exhausted. The fields have not been farmed. The factories are silent. The country is still largely in a state of chaos.
Michael is twelve. His father worked as a night warden on a London rooftop. He was killed in a bomb raid.
Kurt Schwitters, the great German artist, is in London in the last two years of his life. Ill and penniless, he was famous in the art world as a founder of the DADA movement along with Duchamp and Ernst. But most of Schwitters’ life-work of collages and assemblages were destroyed in a bomb raid on Hanover.
Michael collects bus tickets. He wants a complete collection. He hunts everywhere for his tickets. He is passionate about making a perfect collection. Michael’s hobby reflects his instinctive interests. He wants to create order out of a scattered world. He is a very conservative boy, he is keen to put bus tickets back in their natural order. As if to say – I am making order out of chaos.
Kurt collects bus tickets. He regularly takes a bus from his miserable room in north London. He collects the paper items of the day to make into a collage. He is especially keen on bus tickets. Kurt’s attitude to bus tickets reflects his artistic instincts. The old artist resists order. He uses the tickets as part of his apparently random collages. As if to say – I am underlining human chaos.
One day, on a bus, Kurt and Michael make a grab for the same discarded ticket…
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Full score Act II
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