Type of Document Dissertation Author Raines, Robert Charles Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-11022007-101157 Title The Return of Odysseus Degree Doctor of Musical Arts Department Music, College of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Ladislav Kubik Committee Chair James Mathes Committee Member Mark Wingate Committee Member Richard Clary Committee Member Keywords
Date of Defense 2007-10-24 Availability unrestricted AbstractABSTRACT
The Return of Odysseus is based upon Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. Following the style of the poem, the story begins in medias res – that is, in the middle of the tale.
The first act takes place on Odysseus’ home island of Ithaca, where Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, is visited by the Goddess Athena. Penelope is weaving her famous tapestry, which she works on by day and unravels each night in a ploy to fend off the advances of her many suitors.
In the second act, we follow Odysseus across unknown seas and islands as he makes his way home through a series of arduous trials and adventures. He first encounters and kills the Cyclops, then must resist the magical song of the Sirens. Finally he travels to the Kingdom of the Dead, where he encounters many dead friends from his past, culminating in a visit with his recently deceased Mother.
In the last act we are brought to the present as Odysseus returns home disguised as a beggar. He enters an archery contest intended to determine who among the unwelcome suitors will marry Penelope and take over the kingdom. Victorious, Odysseus is revealed as the true king, promptly kills all of the suitors, and regains his throne. In the final scene, Odysseus is reunited with his faithful wife. They join together in the bed that he had built for them in a living tree – the Rooted Bed.
The Odyssey has been the inspiration for many literary works that have referenced the spirit of the epic, reinterpreting it in more accessible forms. Examples include Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, James Joyce’s’ Ulysses, and Charles Frazier’s’ Cold Mountain. My plan in creating this ballet was to similarly construct a representation of the story and not a literal musical description of the entire epic poem. Considering its myriad scenes, characters, and sub-plots, a complete rendering of the work would require a series of ballets. Thus, one of my most challenging tasks was to edit the epic into an effective, truncated version of the original. I feel that the scenes incorporated capture the essence of the story, while retaining the manageable scope I intended.
Currently, the first act of this ballet is being choreographed for a performance at Florida State University in October 2007. The style of the dance is to be modern. This approach mirrors that of the music, which was influenced by a number of 20th century ballet scores including works by Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Davies, Barber, Copland, and Carter.
The form of the work was essentially dictated by the story, but was consciously broken into three parts (acts) and seven scenes. While I initially explored the possibility of using elements of ancient Greek musical materials, I ultimately cast the music in a more contemporary musical language, only occasionally referencing what might be imagined to be the approximate sound of an ancient Greek ensemble. Pitch material started with scales employed by some of the composers listed as influences above, but is freely modified to suit my personal tastes.
For full orchestra.
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