This composition has been derived from a piece for fanfare orchestra that I wrote in 2019, entitled Via ad Veniam (Road to Forgiveness). In 2021, one year into the outbreak of the coronavirus situation, I wrote the opera The Method of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, a free adaptation of a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, that deals with this subject. Toward the end of its second act, nurse Angelica willingly consents to ‘taking the vaccine’, not for herself, but ‘for the others’, as to reduce the risk of infecting other people. Immediately after having been inoculated, she collapses and starts to convulse violently, and she is rushed to hospital at the close of curtain. In the third act, she makes a dramatic reappearance, in a wheelchair, paralysed on one side, and gives an account of the process that she went through, eventually having reached the stage where she can accept what has happened to her. For the aria in which she does so, I re-used the earlier composition Via ad Veniam, and I simultaneously transformed it into this score.
The composition is based on two medieval melodies from the Carmina Burana Codex, namely Procurans Odium
The first song text is about the fact that injustice, when done, often turns out to be a blessing in disguise eventually; the second one is about stabilitas, steadfastness, not letting oneself be diverted from one’s path, no matter what. With this as a starting point, this composition musically depicts all kinds of stages, from the darkness that accompanies wrong-doing to its ultimate acceptance and release. The eight parts in total all merge into one another. Here is a concise overview:
- Darkness. Nurse Angelica’s sudden collapse, out of the blue.
A ‘thunderclap’ is followed by a version of Procurans Odium in a two-part time signature.
- Nightmare. In hospital, she has a terrible nightmare in which she finds herself unable to move.
A variation on the Procurans Odium theme, with fragments of restless fast passages and surreal sounds.
- Awakening in a Nightmare. Suddenly awakening in the middle of night, she finds she still can’t control her movements. In the midst of her panic and still hardly traceable, however, a seed is sown for her determination to continue living and make the utmost of her life.
In the midst of the nightmare music, the Stabilitas theme is announced.
- Despair. She can’t see a way out of her nightmare.
A variant of the beginning returns, with a variation on the Procurans Odium theme, now transformed into a version in three-part time signature, in the midst of confusion and chaos.
The Stabilitas theme is here alternated with the three-movement version of the Procurans Odium theme.
Again a variation on the Procurans Odium theme, now again in two-part time signature and alternating with the well-known Gregorian Dies Irae theme.
- Catharsis. Out of nowhere comes a vision in which nurse Angelica sees a fire. She feels invited to commit all her negative feelings to it, and starts doing so. These feelings slowly start to melt away.
Not only the two-part version of the Procurans Odium theme is engulfed in purifying flames, but also all kinds of motives from the previous parts, connected with negative feelings, are exposed to the elements.
She is now beginning to be able to accept the injustice that has been done to her.
The Stabilitas melody is alternated with the three-part version of the Procurans Odium melody. Of the flame motive, only a quiet and comforting triplet movement remains here and there.
Eduard de Boer, 23 – 11 – 2021