Commissioned by Whitgift School.
Fragments from a Heart of Darkness, Full Orchestra version (2012)
This orchestration, prepared by Tarik O’Regan and Anthony Weeden, is based on the original chamber scoring of the opera by Tarik O’Regan. In particular, what was vocal material in the stage work has been redistributed among the instruments of the orchestra.
The opera, with music by Tarik O’Regan and a libretto by Tom Phillips, received its premiere at the Royal Opera House Linbury Studio Theatre, London on 1 November 2011.
Heart of Darkness, which in turn is based on the novella of the same name by Joseph Conrad. The suite, in seven sections, follows the same order of events as the opera:
Marlow, an old sea-captain, is among a small group of passengers aboard a ship moored in the Thames one evening, waiting for the tide to come in (1. The Thames). He relates the tale of his travels as a young man, when he sailed upriver in the equatorial forest of an unnamed country in Central Africa. He has been sent there to find Kurtz, the enigmatic and once idealistic ivory trader rumoured to have turned his remote Inner Station into a barbaric fiefdom. During his voyage he encounters friends (2. Dance), enemies (3. Attack), and a peculiar acolyte of Kurtz (4. The Harlequin). Marlow is horrified by the violent manner in which Kurtz controls his territory. When Kurtz is found, he is gaunt and ill. On the verge of death, his final mysterious words are “The horror! The horror!” (5. Kurtz). Marlow returns home and meets with Kurtz’s fiancée. Despite all that he has seen and understood, he is unable to tell her Kurtz’s final words (6. The Sepulchral City). We in turn see that Marlow himself has played his part in maintaining the secrecies of horror he finds so abhorrent. Back on the Thames Estuary, the tide has risen. Marlow’s tale is at an end. His isolation from the truth of his actions and the atrocities witnessed - that “vast grave of unspeakable secrets” in which he speaks of being “buried” - is borne out in his epilogue: “we live, as we dream, alone” (7. The River).