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Nicole V. Gagné - Thyestes David Avidor - Tapes, Emax, synthesizers THYESTES departinge from the darkened dens which Ditis low doth keepe heere I am sent out agayne from tartar dungeon deepe heere on prynces heads they place the royall crowne heere in throne aloft they lye heere theyr courts theyr place of banquetting nay better to haunt the lothsome lakes where parched up with burning thirst amid the waves hee sits and payes his paynefull punishment the Gods feast hee defilde how great a part belonges to mee and portion of his crime this is the olde account I speake when our detestable deedes were done and wickednes had wearied us to late truce taken was the starres are kinges and rule the roste theyr whirling wheele doth racke us all I gorgde my brest with my chyldren the bowels of my babes devowred up fortune enterprising greater guilt mee doth deprave to file my daughters bawdy bed my daughter driven by force of fates doth breede younge bones and lades her wombe with sinfull seede of myne a father and grandsyre confusedly I am in honour of thy natyve day Aegisthus they prepare the sollemne feast with juncketing and daynty tothsome fare Agamemnon graund captayne amonge the kinges returnde hee is to yeelde his throate to his traytresse wyfe with force of bloudy blade shee shall bereve him of his lyfe the glytering swerd the hewing ax and wounding weapons moe with bloud for bloud new set abroche shall make the floore to flow with sturdy stroke and boystrous blow of pithy pollaxe geven his beaten braynes are pasht abroade his cracked skull is reven what shame abashe thee why doubt to smite thy mother it beseeme what now nights lynger longe wee wayght for Phoebus
John Giorno - Voice Rudolph Grey - Electric Guitar CHORAL ODE 1 hee leaves for his battail lyke lightning from fyery heaven lyke the Furies sent downe by wrath of God to smite those who defy sacred use and right but the wynde forbyds his navies to passe his priest tells him uppon obtayning theyr request crav'de of theyr grace devine the Gods shall graunt to thee thy passporte into Troy offer up unto them as sacrifyse thy daughter after crying all day hee accepts to pull the paynful plow without remorse even though his neck is gald with the print of this yoke let our fates bringe us to the good hee declares the priest unbarres the gate and opes the temple wide so the clustring thronges can flock in and see Kynge Agamemnons daughter on stage ordeyned for her death his owne child quaking with feare looking rounde on every side with her tears new gushing the Greekes them selves to griefe are movde but do nothing as hee fyrmely byndes her mouth to protect him selfe from her cries for revenge and then braydes backe her hayre drawing noked her neck to taste the fatall knyfe receiving deadly stroke shee yeeldes to him a bubling flood from her goary throate and thus the vyrgin dyed her heade hanging on his speare as an offered gift his savory sacrifyce to move the wynde which did move guiding him on his road to Troy ten yeares have passed and they are fyghting there yet unto this howre thee above the rest whose powre abydes every where how chaunt it fortune God Jove wee myndful are of thee and render thankefull prayse thy lessons wee do record and heere shall declare them plaine that which constraynes us makes us wyse learning is borne of payne
Sussan Deyhim - Chorus 1 Vera Beren - Clytemnestra David Avidor - Emax, guitar, mandolin, violin, cello Nicole V. Gagné - cello, violin, mandolin, guitar CHORUS 1 o worthy queene that beares the swinging sway Clytemnestra borne of Ledas royall bloude what is the newes make playn to mee thy reason for sacrifycing at the sacred alters CLYTEMNESTRA Phoebus prelat is this day this child from deepe of Lady Night I bryng greatter joy than hopst thou for to heare our men have tooke Pryams princelye towres CHORUS 1 what dost thou say CLYTEMNESTRA The Greekes have conquered Troy understande CHORUS 1 a flood of joy streames from my vapourde eyes CLYTEMNESTRA our love is disclosd to all through these sighs and teares CHORUS 1 but why cause it be descryde that they are returning home at last CLYTEMNESTRA a God did tel mee of this victory CHORUS 1 did thou thy selfe hear this in thy silent bed see this in the darckenesse CLYTEMNESTRA no drowsie dreaming doting soule am I CHORUS 1 subdue thy fond affections doth desprat dotage guyde and rule thy mind CLYTEMNESTRA my mynde to fancy fond dath not gad and runne astray CHORUS 1 when did this victory come to him so longe in warre CLYTEMNESTRA on this night mother of the day I haled Troy fell CHORUS 1 no man coulde run so fast over Asia land to tell thee this CLYTEMNESTRA I did learne of it from fyer first from the flashing flames yet blasing bryght through Troy then from the high hylles uppon another shore where a lawrell tree with spredding braunch doth shyne eflamd recording theyr calamityes this glow kindled by my trusty wight is more blasd abroade and further it is blowen flaming fast to divers shores where at every place a wayteth a man who makste his owne fiery fervent heate with al the speede hee can winding a chayne of backe reflicting flames which doth convay to mee my husbands retourne from Troy CHORUS 1 I will pray to the Gods with a glad hart but first tel mee agayne yet hath hee fyxt and set his foote back stepping home CLYTEMNESTRA Troy is orewhelm'd the Greekes stil embrewd with gory bloud from the slaughter great are now after Troyan boties and at randon runne feedyng on the countrey but they have yet to come home againe at last Troys people have cursed them they must not also retayne the spoyles from its divine aulters let them forbeare to defyle els they wil have t'asswage the wrath of Gods and them appease wherby the Grekish navy might have passage free by seas let us bee free at last from these broyles and agonies CHORUS 1 the tydings of a message good unto mine eares is blowne now I will celebrate and prayse God so deare though dealing longe delay God is gracious
Fred Frith - voice, keyboards CHORAL ODE 2 the staggring states of kynges readdy bee to reele no day doth shine that they might say to morrow shall wee rule as wee have done to day what castell strongly buylt is not by fortune brought loe downe paysed with theyr owne waight the massy things do sinke the ramperd walles of Troy made weake by wicked warre are cleane overthrown and broke that skyrmishe ceases winding both peoples in the bonds of griefe theyr teares fall in the dust that was the bodies of theyr sonnes and in theyr heartes they hale out to hell the royall courte the sonnes of Tantalus and theyr broyles lyghtning first lyghteth on the mounts that are most hy whose necke is larded best his throate shall first be cut those Erinnys ever more in proud and hauty houses sit the thinges of midle sort and of a meane degree endure above the rest and longest dayes do see the man of meane estate most happy is of all
Pauline Oliveros -Chorus 2 - voice, accordion Phil Minton - Herald - voice Roger Turner - percussion CHORUS 2 I see a lyght is it rashnes rude and blynde to declare that the slaughters so unpure had no powre to foyle him that hee such scourings hath escapt and returnes tryumphant victor of long assaulted Troy a man comes who can say if wee might all be glad agayne till hee speakes I pray for the good they who do not can reap theyr harts owne calamity HERALD thys my natyve soyle and the Gods in humble sort wyth reverence devoutly worship I now paye your vowes unto the Gods returned is agayne Prynce Agamemnon victor hee for his people the light of heaven for Troy the lepping lightning fyre that teasty Jove did use to hurle provokt to swelling yre with the lothsome actes of Priam and his stocke that lightning downe did wryng them hard and wrapt them in its flame with the puissant force thereof wee did burne away and broyle the temples and the alters of the saincts that rule theyr skyes Priam by handy stroake did take his fatall wound after his sonnes gashed carkas was traynd about the field and now the Troyans doe groveling bend theyr weary neckes in heavy yokes that wil not slacke funerall flames and obit rightes for coyne agayne was yeld more then a dosen tymes over CHORUS 2 hale take leasure good and stay HERALD I could dye happy taking up my tombe heere the coast where Pelops once did raygne CHORUS 2 did affection for thy people way so heavy on thee HERALD I am as it were a conquerd man escaping home so greevous did I longe to return to thee CHORUS 2 wee were in bondage eake of sighes and teares longing for ten yeres with pensive hart and sorrow for thee HERALD wee did grone alyke with this so monstrous ill CHORUS 2 but wee were silent for feare as darke as hell HERALD suffering comes to al but the Gods wee poor wretches who toyled agaynst that forte wee layde for yeares uppon the naked shore of Troy cold and shivering in the hory froth till the day came when wee fell to part the spoyle embathed al in Troyan bloude may these outragious plagues appease at length the wrath that downe from God is sent but why should wee disposed be to mourn the slayne layde in Troyan ground they howle not at the ill that worketh theyr decay wee are the quicke wee hop for joye wee are home heavy with the goods by bloudshed woon and with the great renoume of beyng in his company of such a mighty fleete all these beside the Troyans subdued wee have all these wee blesse with burning sacrifice on this lucky day such are the tydinges I beare thee CHORUS 2 now by this newes a thousand ships at once released I was wronge to doubt her thy counsayle I shall keepe and not complayne my case go declare to her to Clytemnestra this glad message which pacifys our mynde
Vera Beren - Clytemnestra - voice David Avidor - Emax, clarinet Nicole V. Gagné - recorder Phil Minton - Herald - voice Pauline Oliveros - Chorus 2 - voice, accordion Roger Turner - percussion CLYTEMNESTRA most joyfull was I when I out scand within the mantel blacke of night the flames that declared to mee the heavy wofull plight of Troy some did say art thou glad at this it is a very folishnes of womankind but to us it is an augur juste and keepes his promise due my spouse returned is let sacryfices light the homes all rounde with garlands greene let every head rejoysing now be crounde God did spare him all the peril of the broyle but my husband wil tel it mee when before the same I doe present stand why blabbe this long adventure goe fetch him out of hande tel him how his lady spouse lyke a savage wolfe mayntayned hath the defence of this princely court agaynst trayterous mallice tel him how wel shee hath kept her wedlocke vow that shee to him her husband sware in lewd and wanton chamber trickes shee spent no idle day shee did know no abusing lust nor any mischiefe did shee conspyre no more than shee coulde beate and worke yron HERALD it doth mee good to gase uppon his noble wyfe who voyces her mynde so true CHORUS 2 what shee meanes is playn to all who wil heare her but what of our kinges brother doth hee yet sayle on the seas or is hee come a land HERALD God graunt and geve us better newes then this that thou dost crave CHORUS 2 speake out and utter it the hart with doubted domage greater griefe doth know HERALD Menela and his shippe were lost from vew CHORUS 2 what stormes of seas dispersed our captaynes tel mee the Gods rage that hath our navy spent HERALD thou biddest mee to make report of heavy woful geare of our shippes destroid by the spyteful wil of the Furies those hatefull hagges with theyr toyle they helpe the wynd and weather the force of fyre and rage of fighting seas repayring fast from Troy unto our shippes agayne wee came aboord ech little hindraunce seemed to much to us in hasty plight wee did tough our oers to guyde the way which following on a thousand shippes did ryve the evening first did burnish bright and paynt with starres the sky but amounting up a litle misty clowde came belching out in yrksome lompe and Phoebus galland beames hee spewd uppon bestayning them till even the lowring light of Mone was hid and blynd more nights in one compacted and then feareful stormes adowne did fall one uppon another in stronger blasts with lightning flames and floods tumulting so hye a man would sure have thought the world did from his center slyde the shippes agaynst eche other knockt wherby the other hee did breake and broken was himselfe one side with other side was crackt helme was rent with helme and shippe from shippe was taken cleane out of each others sight although God wot but yll for the others our barke with hand Hee caught and fortune did trace us a furrow through the floods till the roring seas stayde theyr rage when Phoebus golden beames began a freshe to render lyght the dolefull day discried all the domage done by nyght the waters brim bespred about with the timber and the broken plankes of our scattred fleete and the torne lims of our men wee know not the fates of the other vessels in the waters wyde turmoyld and straying farre may all come to the good if God wils to preserveth Menelas seede then hee lives yet and shall come back agayne to us from where ever his sayles did reculing flye your wil was the truth to have ful wel be sure that now yee have it all
"Blue" Gene Tyranny - voice, electronics CHORAL ODE 3 couching backward downe agayne to her common course the same shee did arest to file his hostes spousall bed and to abuse his wyfe hee did take his flight rapt up with her but the brydale songe for his darling deare was a funerall dirge for his people for Troy crusshed by force of armes in remembraunce of revenge the captayne generall drove after them and theyr offence a fyry shafte that had to smite home a lyon babe from its mothers bosome wrast a man reared it in his home in his clasped armes that boystous wight which never yet acquayntaunce had with its owne was borne a noble impe of dame nature some jolly worthy lusty bloude thou fosters evermore and so its rawfed jawes imbrewde were with the mans bloud at last Troy the fertill tree that apples beares of golde theyr prynce his honour budding forth with flowre by fortune were hewed downe and sent to deadly doome golde is the poysning teate whereof monsters grow when tewde on by greedy mounching cramming jades by the brethren twins him who advaunces him selfe to shadowe the sunne even the Gods were a number odde before hee was borne and him with the heavy hande the fyst the clubbed brusing battring batte the noble gentlemen in honor shyning cleare with mettall of yellow hew well loden pack away to trace theyr homeward wayne downe in darcknesse deepe to lye with the hounds of hell the good is a lyght whose beams are bright even for them in poverty shrinking close for colde in a dungeon comfortlesse without the lyght of skye the good is a chariot swyfte that will not trot with slower pace or alter course
Chorus 3 01:52
David Avidor - voice, tape CHORUS 3 returning home agayne crounde a signe of worthy victory is Agamemnon now thou that bestryds thy fathers steedes as hee before hath done how thy honour to expresse what solemn games to celebrate a man can make vowd oblations to the gods yet hee destroyes and batters a man can gan his self advance counterfayting a mourning face with teares singe sugred ditties eke for the lusty pompe of royall courte the shepherd who knoweth not the peoples heart is in a piteous plight my hearts hate did hang over thy head for the cause that wild thee heather wend an army with headlong scouring course amayne to Troy and so longe a tyme our sonnes hewed downe for Helen but now most lovingly with heart and hand with these gyftes I gratefie and welcome home my frend my sire who skalde and shooke the tattred Troyan walles take heede of what you shall heare it shall teach thee who can stande upryght and who yet is savage who yet is untamed and unbridled
Julius Eastman - Agamemnon Charles K. Noyes - percussion Vera Beren - Clytemnestra David Avidor - Emax, trumpet, French horn, trombone, sousaphone Nicole V. Gagné - sousaphone, trombone, French horn, trumpet AGAMEMNON my deare loved lande and God I gratefie Gods courte ruled for our cause bringing mee good successe in the revenge I exacted ten yeares winding the lightnings flame about them God tooke no thought of how they prayed in theyr misery but forst ilfavourde Troy to reele and stagger and a nimble beast sent it sprawling to the grounde there is a pryce for those that wage blacke cloudes over a dying people and theyr deade land and for us the booty woon by warre but this I know full well a mans prosperity will cause rusty rancours in peoples heartes no men were with mee in this worke none I had but one frend who did not fade does hee yet live or is hee deade I know not this day will I undertake with all diligence to hew out and burn away whatever heere is cancred or misshapen but now let us to th'alters worship gyve the Gods tooke mee out to conquer Troy and did bring mee backe to my native soyle CLYTEMNESTRA the remnaunt left of shamefastnes in mee tyme hath worne away in this publyque place I wil declare to all how love as captive holdeth mee to my husband hee and I this warre did plunge alike in payne all the whyle hee was at Troy I was layde in torments a frantique raging wight from every message I did heare every cryme which the enemy could commit with desprat hand agayne and agayne I was told how lyfe thy lymmes hath left even dreaming I saw death gnawing thy guttes and gall away I saw thy brest rent with hellish holes there is no plague lyke unto this griefe to cure the same I turned to fire and swoard they did the place of salve supply driven to utter pinch and furthest shift of all in threatning fits I did try many tymes to geve up the ghost but prevented was by the earnest suite of others doe not seeke about for thy sonne hee is gon the people have skittish waiward wits they are fierce in wrath agaynst a fighter who is staggeryng this longe warre did threat in thy affayres therfore Orest his fatherlyke in face was forst to flye the land but our boy is some place safe from thee I have no secrets ten yeares have I bene desolate and led a widowes life with howling crying wringing hands with sobs with sighes and teares that weeping when it should it cannot now come out of mee so shall I entertayne a new my husband as his wyfe I hale this up ryght man whose majesty doth thundring scepters shake painted out in pompe of prayse his fame the sky doth beate enduring many sturdy stormes with mighty toyle and payne to day hee styll enjoys his health enhauncte in glory great hee is the king of kinges the sandy shore to men in theyr beaten barge the vytall delyght of beyng freed from fatall destiny I say what is deservde by him though I offend some the fault they wil it pardon graunt in remembraunce of how I in woe hath lived longe step downe to us victor over Troy but doe not set thy foote on the dampishe myry mud of our land gyrls unfold my maydes spread our sacred traynes the fittest shift for thee the best path to thy home to the tryumph thou so longe wished to attayne that it did become a dream past hoping for fortune hath favored his successe and bryngs him to this day the Gods our native destnies deale for ever sharpe execution of theyr law I stubbernly crave AGAMEMNON my wyfes welcome is like the warre it tooke to longe a tyme honour mee as a man not as a God I am no prynce of Asia to bee worshipped these gorgious gyftes layde on the grounde I cannot stryd on them without feare CLYTEMNESTRA it be but a tryfle small AGAMEMNON I will not yeelde on this CLYTEMNESTRA a great man what neede hee feare a doubtful lot or how his lucke befall AGAMEMNON that is so CLYTEMNESTRA would Pryam trudge on these sheetes AGAMEMNON that barbarous prynce hee might do it CLYTEMNESTRA why faynt with feble feare at the prating of others AGAMEMNON there is strength in what the people say CLYTEMNESTRA the grudging mynd shews the wayt with which thy majesty is consydered AGAMEMNON why contend with mee CLYTEMNESTRA the victor if hee gently doth release his captives care why may not I his lady spouse have hope as wel to fare AGAMEMNON this victory is it so deare to thee CLYTEMNESTRA o yeld to mee doe it of thyne owne free wil AGAMEMNON let us graunt what is so wisht for and may no mischiefe come of it from that huge spoyle wee plucked up this flowre of Troy heere shee submits her selfe to beare the yoake sirs take her downe and bee good to her the Gods savegarde is gyven victors who are milde now bending our will for thee wee shall goe into the royall courte our home CLYTEMNESTRA by fomy floods by the seas wee dwel and they beat from banke to banke with surges hye how ever much wee take from them wee have tossed in theyr silver streames all wee owne and this noble courte never is without all is boyled and brewed and dyed therin I would have under troden these sacred traynes had I an oracle to mee sware that it would bryng thee backe agayne from the seede to the tree with shading braunch when what wee longe for comes how ever late it is good hee is retourned to us lyke the lyght of day and goest about lyke God that doth direct the fates above the starry skye and God all ways doth mee leade that way I meane to take
David Shea - voice, bullhorns CHORAL ODE 4 affright rusht in in swallowes shape in to an olde mans thratling throate bloude on the floore comes backe no more
Vera Beren - Clytemnestra - voice David Avidor - Emax, percussion Nicole V. Gagné - percussion Robert Ashley - Chorus 4 - voice CLYTEMNESTRA Cassandra go to prepare thy selfe with my maydes kindlest thou the sparkes at the altars destiny deales gently with thee more modest should thou be captives geven out among the vulgar sorte a stepdame have whose wrath wil worke theyr woe divelish are the wicked and ungracious stocke that winnest spoyles above theyr hopes wee who beare the swaye heere longe have ruld with majesty from the Gods wee do fetch our noble ligne and so are by fath conjoyned fast that thou shalt receyve thy due CHORUS 4 chylde fast clogde in snares in the sacred ropes of fortune CLYTEMNESTRA I speake out to her but shee stands not weting what to do is shee so savage that shee dost faynt to talke why dost thou loyter so do as I say CHORUS 4 come downe CLYTEMNESTRA deale I cannot with delay nor linger any more an heyferd lilly whight a wayteth at myne aulter the pype in sacryfice melodiously doth sounde celebrating a delyght greatter than any wee did hope for gyrl come apart with mee now hale her on that shee may followe that way my spouse is gon CHORUS 4 goe with the lady doe as shee urges CLYTEMNESTRA shee is wounded in her wits snatcht from the losed rout of Troy stil with her mynd beseging round hereafter shall I tame her shee must be kept with bridle at my will wherby the more shee strives with corage cranke the more shee teares and rents her ungracious saucy face thy selfe dost thou haylefellowe with us esteeme a manly stomacke stout thou hast with swelling hawty hart subdued with sorrow learne thou shall to play a womans part CHORUS 4 pity pearst our heart to see her in holy day attyre face as pale as ashes come let us ease her
Shelley Hirsch - Cassandra - voice Robert Ashley - Chorus 4 - voice CASSANDRA Apollo CHORUS 4 come downe from there CASSANDRA Apollo Apollo hast pulde mee down CHORUS 4 wretched soul all thy sorrowes deepe are unknowne to Phoebus face bewayle this lot not to him CASSANDRA feare this house this family CHORUS 4 shee smels the bloud the pathe of mischiefe CASSANDRA the father feasted on his mangled chyldren the man with trembling hand with axe CHORUS 4 wee know her last renoume prophet CASSANDRA this despret dame her naked weapons whose crowne shee cracke CHORUS 4 blab it not heere wee feede our broode in a tottring nest mumbling words in gabling mouth shee shroudes our brayne in a dusty cloude CASSANDRA within a revell rexe is kept as sore as ever was I see the same and am thereat weare rather thys aray the conqueror with purple hangings all adornde this hostile weede thy loving lady wrought the lyon entangled in the net strugling in vayne the bullockes necke at sacrifice shee the priest heaves her hand the pollaxe CHORUS 4 her privy whispering tyckling in our ear secret thoughts that brooke much sorrow CASSANDRA hee hath the stroke dispatcht it is not quite chopt of the head it hangeth by a litle crop myne owne distresse to moorne my throate to bath the blade CHORUS 4 the spryte of God shee serves in furious rage thou myghtest well lament this sore decay this griefe accurst lyke recording Itys CASSANDRA father follow thee I woulde unto my countrey men of Troy in lowest hell I do delight to sayle with them it doth mee good CHORUS 4 shee utters out what a chylde can know CASSANDRA I see the wery man his burning thyrst forgot hee mourneth for the funerall that shall ensue CHORUS 4 in our teares there is no measure to refrayne those misereyes all measure passe CASSANDRA the sqally sisters evermore deale theyr bloudy strokes theyr old privy grudges theyr siege shall never stop CHORUS 4 a shamefull brutishe fact franckly calde vyrgin bewayling piteously till the God layde handes upon her CASSANDRA I did sacrifice my virginity to Apollo but chyldren I did refuse now I play the prophet colde these tidings I tell mad mumbling to thee to thee berapt of sence my prophesying spright burning myne eyes Thyestes day the foode hee tasted the gubs of bloude gnawed guts beware I say of kynges that country clowne Aegisthus hee this stocke shall overthrowe Agamemnon graunde captayne not knowing the dreadful destinies entrapped by traytrous trayne her goary handes her currish fange cruell conqueresse whore they both accorde unto the kynde whereof they doe proceede Helens syster right shee is and hee Thyestes sonne CHORUS 4 Thyestes wee know flesh and bloude for food the fathers maw to fill but after that the lyght slyps away CASSANDRA you shall see the gasshed corpes of Agamemnon CHORUS 4 shut up peace chylde no God could never brynge to passe the ruin of our natyve countrey CASSANDRA no praying to the heavenly ghostes these subtle foes doe not pray they slaughter CHORUS 4 they chiefly ought to worship God whose hearts with griefe be dull CASSANDRA burning inspyred with spryte the lyonesse will stryke mee dead off with these sacred robes why ghost inspyre none of thyne I am releasse me Apollo your spyte is worne unto the stumpes what countrey have I left where is my syre all my sisters the sacred tombes and altar stones our bloud they swincke and swill Orestes shall come revenge and restore the fits of fury on them shall light fredome draweth ny death gives a courage unto mee CHORUS 4 sad and solemn as a bull that deadly wounde doth take CASSANDRA the deadly wounde I pray shee stryke and leavell right my feare by this affliction is cleane abated all CHORUS 4 who dare to death himself betake is a prynces peare and lyke the Gods CASSANDRA this stinking slaughter house spouting bloude CHORUS 4 poore chylde that huge and fatall gyft heavenly hands erected have and framde CASSANDRA on with mee into the pallace I yeelde my throate mourning my death and Agamemnons avengement worthy I crave prickes of fury fresh CHORUS 4 lamenting these calamyties wee have not time and space CASSANDRA doubtfull standeth still the day even myseries are nothing CHORUS 4 to mortall man fortune gives but brytle fading joy hee who late a conqueror tryumphed over Troy now by destenie stoutly overcome and pulled downe bloud for bloud and death by turnes the after age shall see
Recorded and created by David Avidor and Nicole V. Gagné
Ned Sublette - Chorus 5 - voice, radio Vera Beren - Clytemnestra - voice David Avidor - Emax, synthesizers, tape Nicole V. Gagné - voice, found objects CHORUS 5 and they that of his victory and comming home were glad to sodayne mourning chaunge their myrth with heavinesse bestad CLYTEMNESTRA I am not ashamed herewithal at speaking words that were not true in working mischiefe men do take the rediest way they fynde longe I did my husbandes death conspyre and to day by sleight and subtil guyle entangled hath I this man refusing cleane to be confound my gashing sword stucke him thrust through his ribbes it did sucke the sappy marrow out immixed with his bloud and this juice it conveyed every where like the sacred raygne launching from his gory syde stayning every thing in a darke wave that I stil taste of his death is not sawst with soppes of sorrow I doe rejoyce in his lyfetyme hee did temper poyson strong which to day hee did feede on him selfe CHORUS 5 this heavy sight this noble hearte deprived of his life and her with her rough and churlishe lookes CLYTEMNESTRA I will not waver with feare like some weak harted woman I stroke him downe prayes mee or curse mee it all is the same one law doth rule I did keepe it and that is that CHORUS 5 thou hast committed sinfully a great and grievous guilt goe purge thy hardned hands the which thy husbande bloud have spilt scud out of my sight CLYTEMNESTRA now nurtures lore neglected is all ryght doth clean decay after what sorte dost thou declare mee an outcast banisht woman as yet forget I not my daughter and that infamy whose blemish staynes his bloud yet never did makest thou him in such reproachfulness to wade nothing dismayde thee at Aulis Ile to check what hee durst do as at a wedding alter syde th'unpitiful parent stoode and for the sacred virgins love hee retourned death slaughtered my child snapped her head of with his swerd could not that offence suffice for exile give mee to understande what man is hee that should not pay his paynes and suffer death if thou can so enstruct mee my kingdome therfore I cast of now wil I rove at large if not I shall teach thee how to a queene thy taunting to forbeare CHORUS 5 her spotted weede with sprinkles signe of slaughter beare recorde of her deede as yet they bee not dry CLYTEMNESTRA some man els I have him that of my perills all dost suffer part with mee and in my realme wil also rule with egall dignity Aegisthus who lights the blase in my private simple bower my husband eflamd with Troyan prophets love retourned a prysoners spouse and Pryams sonne in law but that trull of prynces bed did meete her death like as the swan with a songe inspyred by Phoebus grace divine see his breathless corse tossed uppon hers encreasyng leaudnes still his boyling brest doth smoke with wound but newly stroke and freshly still hee fedes his lust least his chamber chast should want a stewes CHORUS 5 my death when I shall take I shall bee pleased well to dye hee that of thousand captaynes was graunde captayne generall come to as great calamity as Troy it selfe did fall CLYTEMNESTRA Troy is become a wyde gaping hole with dreadfull sounds and stinking smels yet Helen is wed to Menela agayne now after death why dost thou seeke with these paynes wee ryght our selves CHORUS 5 o bussard blynde you doe delight in your brutish guise the Furies hale them on in this house of the Tantalus bloude CLYTEMNESTRA Tantalus hee hath made this stock a bloudy raunsome pay the author of this wicked pedagrew hee burns now with thyrst of hell yet the graundsires payneful pangues can not the childrens wrath asswage with a lewde unlucky hand hee did beginne the rusty rancours the cankred hate which never purged is CHORUS 5 wyddow thy husband is bereved quight of breath his lyfe is donne but what heere is not Gods will CLYTEMNESTRA all this is the sonnes of Tantalus and theyr grudge one might not move theyr sprights in law to theyr mynds I did not spare my husband CHORUS 5 Agamemnons death is on thy heade but the children doe complayne from Thyestes paunch the fathers guilt hath caused the force of furious foes the chariot horse with raynes clogde and overquelmed this geare out stretched ready lies in every coast and is spread the seas uppon CLYTEMNESTRA I did but returne the self same trade a new paying il with yll his fate deservde is by guiltles bloud of our daughter now in hell hee seekes about for his defence but his conscience doth pricke and bringes him to the shame that stills his lips CHORUS 5 fortune hales on a rayne of bloude and with unmeasureable might our house is topsy turvey tost our kingdomes doe decay our ruthfull realmes to ruin ronne our stock is cast away suffer mee take parte of sacrifice with thee graunt mee my dome by means of death to passe unto my grave all plunge of perills past hee is and at a quiet stay hee is escapte and gone who shall celebrate his funerall with dirge and solemne songe CLYTEMNESTRA there wil be no teares to night no woefull waylings hard in any place about wee shall passe him to deadly grave but no cause of mourning have we the people wil not mone theyr prynces death at the blackest streame of Sticks hee shall stand with dolor beyng prest agaynst her our child who did take his deadly stroake shee wil holdeth him CHORUS 5 heere is wrath for wrath ech opprest with egall griefe which aunswere were sufficient to please a parent just they who sowe death shall reap death that is Gods fact what person can bee free of this bloude wrath CLYTEMNESTRA by bloud wee win the waveryng windes with this sacryfice wee wrap our selves out of this woe it is the best to chuse that chaunce and follow on that way may the lowring Gods unto us now favourable make them selves the furious force that makes such rigour raygne let it thrive no more heere in let this be the last cryme that ever in this princely court was sowen
Arto Lindsay - Aegisthus - voice, electric guitar, percussion Ned Sublette - Chorus 5 - voice, radio Vera Beren - Clytemnestra - voice David Avidor - Emax, synthesizers, tape Nicole V. Gagné - voice, found objects AEGISTHUS o daye of joy the cruel Gods the judges long agoe decreed this triumphant victory and conquest Agamemnon sent to hell proud Atreus sonne his destenie clong about him Atreus who put in exile my father and when Thiest returnd he was haled out to the great preparation of suffring my father stomacke stoute with sonnes in greattest greefe cursed this house now from farre out beyond this land I am returnd to wrap this hawty king in hiddeous holde of death CHORUS 5 the breeder of this broyle come belching out new bathde in bloude AEGISTHUS olde men the subtil science of the law you doe not understand yron boults and chaynes the counsell of payne wil make you wyse CHORUS 5 Aegist engroceth castels got by fornication hee who both is to his sister sonne and brother AEGISTHUS thyne elvish prating stay I am of Phoebus borne I do not shame those wordes so cranke in misery will haunt you CHORUS 5 what Agamemnon new is this whom shee hast got of late with a doubtfull blade in his shivering hand AEGISTHUS through being clapt in prison strong and suffring famyne faynt truculent men are compeld to yeelde CHORUS 5 the Furies shall move her sonne to bloude Orestes now bee boulde you are the onely helpe wee have AEGISTHUS to fyre and sword appeale lay hands sirs on this rabblement of wretches CHORUS 5 swerd and buckler very well this hand shall doe the deede AEGISTHUS on sword this strong hearted sire feares not death CHORUS 5 death you preach and death you shall receave CLYTEMNESTRA Aegist my love no doe not move us all to desprat moode agayn consyder these calamityes wee have reapt and eake the cares to come neede wee to worke more woe uppon the world to day let us returne now to our homes all of us wee did but what wee had to do weary and batred downe as wee are under these hard destinies please God they are stayde at last go home every one AEGISTHUS those malicious men geven to scorne picke a quarrel with theyr king CHORUS 5 I will not take this bloudy tyrauntes hand AEGISTHUS yet hast thou not layde thy lips no pardon wil there be in my jurisdiction CHORUS 5 delight and rampe about with the honor of the crowne whose brute abrode doth growe whilst you can but in thy roaring noyse make hast thy selfe to save AEGISTHUS thou easest feare by fickle hope you sal pay puft up men CHORUS 5 Orest on you shall also light revenge his fathers death depryve with swerd th'adulterour and mother both of breath this poore Orest such kinde of theft is piety in deede CLYTEMNESTRA rough and thundring threats all wynd and ayre forget them dearest now that wee rule throughout Micoena land we shall keepe a meane therin and set it ryght


An Opera by David Avidor and Nicole V. Gagné
copyright (P) (C) 1992, 2012

Producers: David Avidor and Nicole V. Gagné
Recording Engineer: David Avidor
Libretto: Nicole V. Gagné

Cast in Order of Appearance


THYESTES............................Nicole V. Gagné - Voice
David Avidor - Tapes, Emax, Synthesizers


CHORAL ODE 1...................John Giorno - Voice
Rudolph Grey - Electric Guitar

CHORUS 1............................Sussan Deyhim - Voice

CLYTEMNESTRA................Vera Beren - Voice, Guitar-Zither
David Avidor - Emax, Guitar, Mandolin,
Violin, Cello
Nicole V. Gagné - Cello, Violin, Mandolin, Gtr


CHORAL ODE 2..................Fred Frith - Voice, Keyboards

CHORUS 2............................Pauline Oliveros - Voice, Accordion

HERALD................................Phil Minton - Voice
Roger Turner - Percussion

CLYTEMNESTRA................Vera Beren - Voice
David Avidor - Emax, Clarinet
Nicole V. Gagné - Recorder


CHORAL ODE 3.................."Blue" Gene Tyranny - Voice, Electronics

CHORUS 3............................David Avidor - Voice, Tape

AGAMEMNON......................Julius Eastman - Voice
Charles K. Noyes - Percussion

CLYTEMNESTRA................Vera Beren - Voice
David Avidor - Emax, Trumpet, French horn,
Trombone, Sousaphone
Nicole V. Gagné - Sousaphone, Trombone,
French Horn, Trumpet


CHORAL ODE 4..................David Shea - Voice, Bullhorns

CLYTEMNESTRA...............Vera Beren - Voice
David Avidor - Emax, Percussion
Nicole V. Gagné - Percussion

CHORUS 4...........................Robert Ashley – Voice

CASSANDRA........................Shelley Hirsch - Voice


CHORUS 5............................Ned Sublette - Voice, Radio

CLYTEMNESTRA...............Vera Beren - Voice
David Avidor - Emax, Synthesizers, Tape
Nicole V. Gagné - Voice, Found Objects

AEGISTHUS.........................Arto Lindsay - Voice, Electric Guitar, Percussion


released September 26, 2012

by Nicole V. Gagné

The Music

David Avidor and I created AGAMEMNON to be an opera specifically for disk rather than live performance. All the musicians were recorded individually, from December of 1986 through December 1988. The vocalists were given only the text of their own character’s lines and recorded their tracks without hearing the music of any other players. Two exceptions to this procedure are also the longest parts in the opera: the Herald, which Phil Minton and Roger Turner performed together, and Clytemnestra, who is always attended by two musicians of changing instrumentation. The only other departure is Thyestes, which is a live take, heard as played with no edits or overdubs (other than some backwards reverb at the beginning and end).

Of the sixteen performers who joined David and me in AGAMEMNON, fourteen worked as studio musicians in a series of free-ranging improvisations, knowing that David and I would re-cut their tracks and combine them with other singers and instrumentalists. Two musicians, however, created what were in effect discreet independent songs: Fred Frith with “Choral Ode 2” and “Blue” Gene Tyranny with “Choral Ode 3.” In both instances, they are the composers of those works.

The Libretto

Not being literate in ancient Greek, I wrote the libretto of AGAMEMNON after studying numerous English translations of Aeschylus (principally those by Richard Lattimore, Tony Harrison, Herbert Weir Smyth & Hugh Lloyd-Jones, and Robert Fagles). The actual words being sung, however, are all taken from a late-16th-century text by the English poet John Studley: his translation of Seneca’s play Agamemnon, which was written in Latin by the Roman tragedian and philosopher sometime during the middle third of the 1st century C.E. -- about 500 years after Aeschylus’s tragedy was first performed.

Although today neglected by both the stage and the academy, Senecan tragedy actually possesses considerable virtues and was wildly admired throughout the Renaissance, when Greek tragedy was still largely unknown. Seneca’s lurid violence, bombastic rhetoric, and despairing tone spoke directly to the writers of Elizabethan tragedy, in the original Latin as well as in translation. Studley’s Agamemnon appeared in 1581 along with nine other Senecan tragedies “faythfully englished” by various scholarly poets. (Aeschylus would remain unenglished until 1777.) For my libretto, I used Studley’s text strictly as a lexicon of words from which I could re-create the characterizations, narrative structure, thematic arguments, and poetic imagery of Aeschylus’s Agamemnon. A further constraint was that the libretto’s Clytemnestra had to be stitched together from the words spoken by Seneca/Studley’s Clytemnestra; the libretto’s Aegisthus, from that text’s Aegisthus, and so on. (A 72-line epilogue, “added to the Tragedy by the Translator,” was treated as a pool of words available for any character.)

Seneca and Aeschylus are playwrights of drastically different attitudes and methods, and their versions of the Agamemnon story vary greatly. My focus in writing the libretto was of course Aeschylus, but certain Senecan innovations proved irresistible -- particularly his conception of Aegisthus as the spawn of Thyestes’ incestuous coupling with his own daughter. The Prologue, however, is the libretto’s only radical departure from Aeschylus. His Agamemnon begins with a monologue by the Watchman who awaits his master’s return; the libretto adopts Seneca’s opener, a tirade from the ghost of Thyestes, who is Agamemnon’s uncle and his immediate link in a bloody chain of generational violence and revenge. Nevertheless, images and ideas peculiar to Aeschylus’s Watchman are woven into Thyestes’ song.

My libretto for AGAMEMNON was designed to make the opera reverberate through a superimposition of historical eras: the contemporary treatment of form; the language of Christian, Tudor England; the bleakness of the Roman courts of Caligula and Nero; the visionary passion of 5th-century B.C.E. Athens.


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