The Little Mermaid text is written by the Danish playwright Peter Asmussen, who also wrote the libretto for my opera Under the Sky (2004). The text is based on the fairytale The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen and Peter Asmussen only uses Andersen’s words shortened to form a kind of poem telling the story in three movements: The Tempest, The Silence and The Party.
A lot of the words are put into the mouth of the soprano soloist, while other parts of the Mermaid-text are sung by the girls’ choir, who on one hand tell the story and on the other hand play the roles of the little mermaid’s sisters. While the female voices are telling/playing out the little mermaid’s story, a tenor sings quotations from the diary of Hans Christian Andersen, ending with the very last words he wrote in his diary. So in a way the piece points towards the death of both Andersen and the little mermaid.
The music - together with the text - forms a kind of semi-dramatic piece. And the music itself is very much inspired by the headlines: Tempest/Storm, Silence and Party. All the way through the music is soft - even the storm is soft and gentle in the music - trying to find a translation in music of the childlike nature of the fairytale. I think I tried to transform the purity of the girls’ choir’s voices into the orchestral sound.
- Bent Sørensen 2005