‘Marilyn Forever’: An Opera

marilynopera

Marilyn Forever, an opera, will be staged this weekend at the McPherson Playhouse in Victoria, British Columbia, reports the Times-Colonist. Starring the Faroese singer, Eivor Palsdottir, it features a libretto by poet Marilyn Bowering, based on her 1987 book, Anyone Can See I Love You, set to music by the British composer, Gavin Bryars. An earlier version of the show was produced in 2010.

“Pálsdóttir, chatting between rehearsals, said Marilyn Forever commences unconventionally with the movie star’s death. ‘She’s lying dead in her bed and she kind of wakes up. And her thoughts go back,’ the 30-year-old said.

She worked with Bryars five years ago, performing a piece called Tróndur i Gotu. In Marilyn Forever, aside from a couple of sequences, she makes no attempt to replicate Monroe’s breathy delivery. Pálsdóttir deliberately sings in her own voice, which at times sounds ethereal — somewhat reminiscent of Björk and Kate Bush.

‘My biggest challenge is probably [Monroe’s] body language. And the link between not trying to sound like her, but still being her. That’s quite a challenge, actually. It’s Marilyn with a different voice,’ she said.

Bryars…recalls obsessively watching her 1961 film The Misfits for an entire week.

Back then, British cinema-goers typically saw two films in a row — an ‘A’ and ‘B’ feature. Bryars would watch The Misfits, read the movie’s script while the second feature played, then watch The Misfits once more.

‘There was a sense it was the end of a whole group. And the film itself was about the end of a world, this world of rounding up horses and so forth, this whole neo-cowboy world,’ Bryars said.

Most of all, there was that intangible something about Marilyn Monroe. Bryars’ interest was rekindled when he read Bowering’s 1987 book of poems about Monroe, Anyone Can See I Love You. Bowering also created a stage and a radio version — the latter was broadcast by the CBC and the BBC.

She says Marilyn Forever is intended to reflect the experience of life flashing before one’s eyes, as is said to happen when death looms. There are ‘psychological moments, reflections, reminiscences and so on,’ she said, adding: ‘Basically, she’s discovering and saying who she is through this night.’

Bryars says there’s something ‘Shakespearean’ in the way Marilyn Forever presents Monroe at a moment of tragedy.”

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