DR. OXS EXPERIMENT


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bukelubeniwe.cf/map8.php Meyerbeer was only able to compose this solo because Adolphe Sax had developed the instrument's mechanism beyond its earlier rudimentary state. Sax, of course, came from Belgium, the country where Verne had located with extraordinary geographical precision, although now appearing on no map, the town of Quiquendone.

The climactic disorder towards the end of the first act which occurs with the accelerated and dislocated performance of Les Huguenots, where the townsfolk are drawn into the opera itself, leads to the fastest tempo in the whole work.

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As part of the explosion, as the sound decays the strings emerge as 24 solo instruments, like debris fluttering to the ground in the aftermath. In each act the climax is followed by an aria for Aunt Hermance, a shadowy figure who, as chaperone for the lovers is the personification of the town's character, but who can also be transformed, like litmus paper in a chemical experiment, to signal the move to a new state.

At the end, however, her previous charge Suzel at least has achieved something close to self-knowledge and even enlightenment.

In her epilogue she is supported by both the jazz bass playing in the low and middle register and by the bass clarinet playing altissimo. Doctor Ox's Experiment is dedicated to my mother, who was also present at the last performance of Medea in Paris. In France, the book had appeared over a decade earlier, in , immediately after the most famous of all his novels, Around the World in Eighty Days.

Verne's work-rate being prodigious, and the text of Dr Ox running to only a little over pages, it's likely he bashed it out very quickly. Neither critics nor book-buyers seem to have noticed it much: Dr Ox's Experiment remains one of his least-known works. Certainly I'd never heard of the book when, in May , exactly a hundred years after its publication here, Gavin Bryars wrote to me with the idea of turning it into an opera.

At that point, not being well up in contemporary classical music, I hadn't heard of Gavin Bryars either, but I liked the sound of him - and when I heard his music I liked the sound of that, too. We met in a restaurant near Chelsea Bridge, close to the new Observer building where I worked as a literary editor.

Doctor Ox’s Experiment, by Verne, Jules,

I'd recently published a book of poems, The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper, and it was that which had prompted Gavin to propose a collaboration. Over lunch we discovered we had things in common - Yorkshire childhoods, bibliomania, an interest in sport - and could get along. By the time coffee was served, we had shaken hands on the project.

I had never written a libretto, but I could see at once why Gavin believed Dr Ox could work as an opera. The plot is devastatingly simple: Gavin's agent had warned that it was "unlikely that the opera would be produced before ", something of an under-estimate as it turned out. And the summer of was a busy one for me, since as well as a day job at the Observer I had a two-month old baby in the house and novels to read for the Booker Prize.

I was eager to make a start, nevertheless, and by the autumn we had produced a concert-piece, in effect an "epilogue" to the novella, for one of the principal females, Suzel.

The townspeople celebrate their sedate existence and have their tea while discussing small matters. Views Read Edit View history. At times, in fact, Verne's science could be incredibly factual simply moving one or two steps forward in time, or sideways in geographical location by drawing out the implications of what was already present, or at least latent. They also added a second pair of lovers. The town has gathered to watch a performance of Meyerbeer 's opera Les Huguenots and this is Ox's chosen occasion for his experiment. Its chief protagonist, Ox, is in the anarchist tradition of Verne's heroes like Captain Nemo or Robur the Conqueror, but at the same time displays the single-mindedness of, say, Captain Hatteras the explorer trying to reach the North Pole who, even in his terminal madness, sought only to walk to the North. Things start slowly and then speed up and become chaotic as the experiment proceeds.

A long silence followed. I too had other things to work on, including an abortive musical version, with the composer Howard Goodall, of Wuthering Heights there was some interest, at first, but once Cliff Richard announced his intention to play Heathcliff, in a rival version, the phone stopped ringing. The Eighties became the Nineties. But Dr Ox didn't fizzle out.

Dennis Marks had shown some interest in the project while working at the BBC. And when he arrived at the ENO, he duly commissioned us to produce the opera for the Coliseum. If there's a simple rule for how librettists and composers should collaborate, we didn't discover it. Gavin's home is in the country near Leicester, mine is in London, and though we met many times during the ten years of Dr Ox's evolution, most of the communing was done by fax and phone.

We advanced by trial and error, with Gavin sometimes chucking out words of mine he knew wouldn't fit and sometimes asking me to write new ones for scenes that proved dramatically or musically richer than we'd anticipated.

Dr. Ox's Experiment

David Pountney gave us much useful advice, especially with the dramatic structure of the piece, and Dennis Marks lent steadfast support. But it was never easy to predict what would or wouldn't work musically.

Dr. Ox's Experiment is a short story by the French writer and pioneer of science- fiction, Jules Verne, published in It describes an experiment by one Dr. Ox . Doctor Ox's Experiment is an opera in two acts by Gavin Bryars. It has an English- language libretto by Blake Morrison after the novella of the same name by.

For Gavin, the lyrical high point of one section came with the phrase "with the gasworks". It was chastening for me to discover that banal words can sometimes inspire beautiful music. Not that I set out to create banality, but some of Verne's scenes - a long, nitpicking council meeting, for example - are unavoidably prosaic, and that's part of their comedy. Other scenes, notably that in which the young lovers, Frantz and Suzel, pursue their slow courtship by the River Vaar, required a more elevated diction, with an erotic subtext.

I used a good deal of rhyme, both with the gentler, more romantic scenes and for the farcical ones. I also tried to contrast two kinds of belief system, tradition on the one hand, science on the other: Just as there are two tempos in Doctor Ox, so there are several linguistic registers. Poets are used to working alone, their only struggle with themselves. A librettist has responsibilities to others - composer, director, choreographer, orchestra, cast - and this means being willing to make cuts and changes to the text, for the greater good of the whole.

Far from feeling compromised by this process, I loved the companionship a welcome break from the isolation of my basement and the discipline which collaboration imposed. I'd thought of the libretto as a dramatic poem, but it isn't: However clear the singing, some words will usually be lost, a reality the librettist doesn't relish but has to accept.

Even when every word is heard, the attention of the audience may be elswhere, with the gestures of the performers, or the scenery, or the orchestra. But that doesn't mean working any less hard at them. In the case of Dr Ox's Experiment, dialogue had to be written that doesn't exist in Verne's text. The descriptive passages of Quiquendone had to be replaced by a chorus of townsfolk. Instead of being psychologically analysed by their novelist-creator, the characters had to be seen and heard to interact.

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Above all, the personalities of Ox and Ygene - and the dynamics of a master-slave relationship - were fleshed out. Gavin and I didn't agree in every detail about the tone and shape of the opera, but there were no serious rifts, let alone slanging matches. One principle uniting us was a wish to honour the spirit of Verne's novella and the questions it raises about scientific and political advance. Ox sees himself as a benefactor. The gift he brings isn't just gas but light, speed, music, democracy, modernity, self-fulfilment.

It describes an experiment by one Dr. Ox and his assistant Gedeon Ygene. A prosperous scientist Dr. Ox offers to build a novel gas lighting system to an unusually stuffy Flemish town of Quiquendone. Your Cart items Cart total. Free eBook available to NEW subscribers only. Must redeem within 90 days. See full terms and conditions and this month's choices. Une fantaisie du docteur Ox , "A Fantasy of Doctor Ox" [1] is a short story by the French writer and pioneer of science-fiction , Jules Verne , published in It describes an experiment by one Dr.

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Ox and his assistant Gedeon Ygene. A prosperous scientist Dr. Ox offers to build a novel gas lighting system to an unusually stuffy Flemish town of Quiquendone. As the town bore no charges, the offer is gladly accepted. The hidden interest of Dr. Ox is however not lighting, but large scale experiment on effect of oxygen on plants, animals and humans.

He uses electrolysis to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen.