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“Powers of Two: The Sibyl”

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Truax, Barry (Canadian composer, librettist, 1947-____), “Powers of Two: The Sibyl,”

a __-minute act from a four-act opera in English, set no specific place, the present,


  •  © 1995 by Barry Truax;  •  score-libretto/rights and a video tape of a performance available from Barry Truax, 4346 Cambridge Street, Burnaby, British Columbia V5C 1H4, Canada, truax@sfu.ca, http://www.sfu.ca/~truax/.  •  Cited by Barry Truax, via e-mail February 28, 2000; Truax says,

  §  Dramatis Personae Sibyl (f contralto), representative of traditional knowledge; The Journalist (f mezzo-soprano), a lesbian; Dancer (m); video tape, 8-channel tape.

  § Synopsis “The Sibyl, who represents traditional knowledge, must find a successor, and she does so in the person of The Journalist, who enters looking for a story, equipped with a video camera and lights that blank out the video screen. The Journalist, a lesbian, extols the new Golden Age represented by television, and simultaneously falls in love with the female models portrayed there. The Sibyl decries the falseness of these images and encourages her to forsake the materialism represented by the world of advertising. The Journalist does so through a symbolic death in which the Sibyl’s cape is used to cover her, with a musical reference to Berg’s Lulu. She is ‘reborn’ as Sappho to become the new Sibyl by assuming the cape and returning to the opening song. The male Dancer parallels this action by interacting with the video projection and, at the end, appears to unite with the virtual ‘other,’ a male dancer on the screen.”

  § Comment For more information and production photos, see http://www.sfu.ca/~truax/powers3.html.  •  A Globe and Mail article critiquing the opera is available at http://www.sfu.ca/~truax/globe.html.   •  “Barry Truax is a Professor in both the School of Communication and the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University where he teaches courses in acoustic communication and electroacoustic music. He has worked with the World Soundscape Project, editing its Handbook for Acoustic Ecology, and has published a book Acoustic Communication dealing with all aspects of sound and technology. As a composer, Truax is best known for his work with the PODX computer music system which he has used for tape solo works and those which combine tape with live performers or computer graphics. A selection of these pieces may be heard on the recording Sequence of Earlier Heaven, and the Compact Discs Digital Soundscapes, Pacific Rim, Song of Songs, and Inside, all on the Cambridge Street Records label. In 1991 his work, Riverrun, was awarded the Magisterium at the International Competition of Electroacoustic Music in Bourges, France, a category open only to electroacoustic composers of 20 or more years experience.”—Bios, http://www.sfu.ca/~truax/, accessed February 26, 2000.  •  See online interview by Toru Iwatake, August 7, 1991, at the Department of Communication, Simon Fraser University.—Barry, http://www.sfu.ca/~truax/barry.html.

  § Themes abandonment, advertising, assumption, Berg (Alban Berg, 1885-1935), cape, dance, death, equipment, falseness, female, Golden Age, interaction, journalism, knowledge, lesbianism, light, love, Lulu, materialism, musical homage, news story, parallelism, personage, praise, rebirth, Sappho, screen, Sibyl, succession, symbolism, television, tradition, union, video camera, video projection.

See also Barry Truax’s


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