The Black Spider

With the blessing of the composer, Benjamin Gordon made extensive alterations to the instrumentation, vocal lines and score: a “new” composition is a more fitting description, and quite a successful one at that. A threesome of double-basses in the chamber orchestra provides chilling suspense, while the spooky percussion sends shivers up one’s spine… The children sang the sometimes diatonic – sometimes chromatic vocal lines seemingly effortlessly and with astonishing accuracy.
Tom R. Schulz, Die Welt, 03/31/2009

Photos used with permission
Photo Studio: Brinkhoff / Mögenburg
Stage Director: Holger Liebig
Set Design: Nikolaus Webern
Costumes: Julia Schnittger

 

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THE BLACK SPIDER
Opera in two acts by Judith Weir
Revised Version by Benjamin Gordon

What originally began as a simple expansion of Judith Weir’s orchestration (augmenting the original clarinets, trumpets and percussion with strings, and replacing the guitar with harp) soon took on bigger dimensions. You might say that out of necessity, the singers themselves initiated the transformation of the work. Attempts to simply transpose existing numbers created new difficulties. This led to expanding the existing arias and ensembles as well as composing new orchestral interludes incorporating bits of the existing music, thus making the work a bit longer, about 75 minutes in total. Correspondingly, the orchestral writing was given more muscle to give the highly talented young musicians something to really sink their teeth into. The percussionists especially benefited from the new intricate and often spooky parts. In some places the music became more Transylvanian, in others more sinister, while the “spider” music enables the orchestra share the limelight with the singers.