Sibelius plays role in Ian McEwan and Michael Berkeley’s opera

Opinion
Librettist Ian McEwan and composer Michael Berkeley (image: The Guardian)
Librettist Ian McEwan and composer Michael Berkeley (image: The Guardian)

The author Ian McEwan has collaborated with composer Michael Berkeley on the opera For You, which will be premiered at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio later this month. Sibelius played an important part in the collaboration of librettist and composer, according to The Guardian:

McEwan began writing the libretto in breaks between working on his music-saturated novel On Chesil Beach. He would feed scenes to Berkeley, who would respond by playing McEwan outlines of the music — “mostly via the Sibelius computer programme, which might sound like a band of kazoos, but does contain harmony and everything” — so McEwan had a sense of what his words would sound like from the beginning. “And that was quite a fillip because the words came alive.”

Sibelius, of course, doesn’t normally sound like a band of kazoos (perhaps Mr. Berkeley needs a better playback device!), though few would be fooled into thinking they’re listening to a real orchestra.

Sibelius has already played an important role in McEwan’s work: it was used by composer Dario Marianelli for the score to the film adaptation of his novel Atonement, and that score won the Oscar for Best Original Score earlier this year.

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