The long-awaited opera based on Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” plays at La Scala, Milan from 16 to 29 May, though Gore’s name no longer appears. Instead, credit is given to James Lovelock, Richard Mabey, and the environmentalit periodical “Resurgence”. Tickets are from eleven to 150 euros.
According to an article on the La Scala website by Ian Burton: “CO2 was conceived as a rotating prayer wheel of our current concerns an anxieties about our climate, what we have done to change it, and what remedies, if any are possible … I knew that before attempting to understand what man had done to the earth and the climate surrounding it, I needed to say something about the splendours of creation, and to bookend the whole “non-narrative” opera with two mythical versions of the Creation and the Apocalypse. The first derived from the wonderfully paradoxical Vedic scriptures of Hinduism … with Shiva’s dance of creation and final dance of destruction; and secondly the Judaeo/Christian version of events at the beginning of time, as written in the Book of Genesis in the Jewish Old Testament, and also in St. John’s account, at the end of the New Testament, in The Book of Revelation…”
The Italian equivalent of Radio 3 has a wonderful “after the match” opera programme whose participants demonstrate all the obsessive opinionated enthusiasm of football fans. If Maurizio or anyone is tuning in, it would be nice to have some (translated) reactions.
Here’s the synopsis. Nitpickers will note that the librettist seems to think tsunamis are a symptom of manmade global warming. Fans of Vedic hymns and the Apocalypse of St John will not be fazed.
The climatologist David Adamson begins a lecture on the problems of climate change.
Scene 1 (Creation)
As Adamson contemplates the beginning of the world, scientific creation theories are contrasted with religious and mythic ones.
Scene 2 (Airport)
Passengers are caught up in a strike of air traffic controllers. Adamson is amongst them, on his way to the Climate Change Convention in Kyoto.
Scene 3 (Kyoto)
International delegates defend their nations’ individual interests and dispute their conflicting positions.
Scene 4 (Hurricanes)
Adamson describes how Co2 pollution in the earth’s atmosphere can lead to extreme weather conditions, and explains how hurricanes are named.
Scene 5 (Eden)
Adamson imagines Adam, Eve and the serpent in the garden of Eden, and reflects on the infinite variety of plants and animal species – in particular snakes.
Scene 6 (Supermarket)
Women are buying food, enjoying the far-flung origins of their favourite produce.
Scene 7 (Tsunami)
On a beach in Thailand, Mrs. Mason talks to a hotel manager about her brother-in-law who was drowned in the Tsunami the year before. She reflects on the causes of the disaster.
Scene 8 (Gaia)
Adamson discusses practical environmentalism and James Lovelock’s “The Gaia Hypothesis”. Gaia herself appears, and describes the catastrophic damage man has inflicted on her, resulting in the ruin of her atmosphere and the disorientation of her seasons.
Scene 9 (Apocalypse)
Adamson envisions an apocalyptic end of the world.
Ending his lecture, Adamson tries to reconcile his environmental despair with his sense of responsibility towards the planet.