The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive


Le Popu Ballistique

My father sings the opera beautifully. There are nine acts and tableaus,
coloratura. It is for solo voice.

in the day:

1 Untitled: prologue
  Scene by a swimming pool. A blond woman in the distance wears a bikini
  and is sunbathing. She is framed by palm trees in silhouette. There
  are beach chairs behind her.

2 Miami Vice
  A closeup of the woman. This scene is very somber. She disappears and
  blurs out.

in the night:

3 nikuko and alan were good terrorists
  The beginnings of the somber intermezzo. The scene is bathed in red-
  brown. nikuko appears nude, outside, on a second floor landing. She
  looks wistful. There are apartments all around. She is in closeup.

4 bad people wanted nikuko's cunt even if they died
  The second of the somber intermezzo. The scene is bathed in brown-red-
  brown. nikuko continues to stare out from the second-floor landing.

5 nikuko and alan are waiting to kill you
  Bleak and darker in this third of the somber intermezzo. The scene is
  bathed in the same light as before, but the view is from a greater
  distance. It is here at the climax of the opera that my father's voice
  reaches its greatest range in an unforgettable aria.

6 alan would offer nikuko to anyone who wanted her
  Darker yet, the fourth of the somber intermezzo. The seem is bathed in
  red-brown-red light, blood colored, somewhat mottled. nikuko is seen in
  closeup again, as in the first two scenes.

7 in miami, nikuko fucked everyone and everyone died
  From a distance, the fifth of the somber intermezzo. The light changed,
  cooler, tan. nikuko is standing upright. She is still on the landing,
  leaning slightly against the railing. She is still nude.

8 nikuko would give their corpses to alan to fuck
  The sixth of the somber intermezzo, deep blood red, darker, very
  mottled. The same view as the previous scene. nikuko has turned

9 no more nikuko and alan
  The last of the somber intermezzo, green and liquid in appearance. There
  are two empty beach-chairs, recliners. An apartment complex is behind
  them. They seem to be at the pool. An open hallway is overlit in the
  background. At this point my father's voice dies to a whisper. He sings
  just as beautifully in a soft, low voice.

10 Untitled: epilogue
  The blue-green-blue edge of a swimming-pool. Bubbles rise in a parabolic
  arc. This scene, the last, is in silence. The audience is quiet.

Everything in the Le Popu Ballistique is uncanny. My father's voice, Azure
naked on the landing, the blond woman almost naked in the prologue - these
are the austere elements of this opera of muted terror and annihilation.
For the first time, trauma takes central stage. The audience leaves,
already in memory and denial. This was happening to them.


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