DAVID LANG (b.1957): Anatomy Theater.
Catalogue Number: 12V061
Description: This pitch-black Grand Guignol farce set to irresistibly catchy music may not be to everybody’s taste ... but it probably should be. Its libretto adapted from actual 18th century texts, the work explores the extraordinary, ghoulish practice of dissecting newly executed criminals before a paying audience, ostensibly in the search for a physiological basis for moral corruption. A young murderess is hanged at the start, after making a horrifying but heartwrenching confession. Her still warm body is handed over to the ministrations of a slimily prurient, oleaginously hypocritical theatrical impresario, whose leering presentation hints at indecent arousal in himself and his audience. He introduces the pompous, self- righteous, pseudo-scientific 'Anatomist', secure in his gloating ignorance, and his efficient, amoral assistant, who will perform and comment on the necropsy. The dissected murderess herself sings a genuinely, if bizarrely, moving lament for her own abused heart, as the organ is removed from her body. This parade of horrors is set to Lang's customary hard-hitting post-minimalist music, representing the branch of minimalism that wasn’t absorbed into neo-romanticism but retained the harsh, repetitive, blocky textures of ur-minimalism, though without the endless hypnotic transformations. Of the Bang on a Can alumni, Lang in particular, with something in common with Nyman, prefers a hard-edged, percussive vocabulary, sometimes as accompaniment to gracefully soaring melodic lines. Featuring Marc Kudish, Robert Osborne, Peabody Southwell, Timur. International Contemporary Ensemble; Christopher Rountree.