The Book of Seraphim
Duration: 1 hour, 20 minutes
The premiere took place on 20 February 2020.
Based on William Blake's poem The Book of Thel and a fragment of Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel Demons. The libretto uses Konstantin Balmont’s Russian translation of Blake’s poem (1921), and an English translation by Virginia Woolf (and Samuel Kotelyansky) of Dostoevsky’s novel Demons (Stavrogin’s Confession, 1922).
This new opera by Alexander Belousov (Maniozis and Maniozis-2, Stanislavsky Electrotheatre) combines two works.
First there is William Blake’s first prophetic poem, The Book of Thel (1789), which narrates the tale about the daughter of Seraphim, who, in search of the reason for her ennui, turns to Lilia Dolins, then to the Cloud and the Worm, and finally falls into the bosom of the Earth, where she discovers the source of human suffering.
Then there is the chapter “At Tikhon's” from Dostoevsky’s novel Demons, where the main character, Nikolai Stavrogin, conducts a conversation with Bishop Tikhon, presenting him with written evidence of his past sins.
Both pieces explore the topic of desire. Desire is given to mankind. But in Dostoevsky, Stavrogin says: "I am always master when I feel desire." Where Blake (a century before Freud) discovers desire only as a source of human movement, Dostoevsky offers a way to consciously work with it.
The title The Book of Seraphim refers to the name of the absent narrator - the one with whose eyes the spectator sees and hears the story, that fantastic Old Testament creature whose image Blake places on the last page of his own edition of his poem.
The opera, musically resolved in a minimalist manner, and similar to one big mantra, begins with a prologue in the lobby, continues in the hall and ends again in the lobby. As such, this interpretation of the texts of William Blake and Dostoevsky takes its spectators on a true journey through space.
The orchestra's phonogram was recorded by: Svetlana Bezotosnaya, Mikhail Zvonnikov,
Anna Zvonnikova, Philip Kryuchkov, Denis Kuznetsov, Anastasia Kuskasheva, Maria Lukyashina
Conductor: Dmitry Matvienko