A pdf of the music and words for the free-standing aria “I Will Start a Fire with your Ashes” is available below, but I do not have an audio recording of that piece.
If an audio sample is preferred, I have included a link to a recording of a chamber opera entitled “The Resurrection Engine.” It is a half-hour piece, but two specific short sections are indicated, an aria and a trio.
I Will Start a Fire With Your Ashes
“I Will Start a Fire with your Ashes” was created by librettist E. M. Lewis and composer Evan Meier. Part of a larger project I’ve envisioned — a full operatic adaptation of “The Iliad” — this aria focuses on the moment when the body of Patroclus is delivered to Achilles, and Achilles makes his decision to fight once again.
While the characters and topic are classical, my approach is direct and present tense and emotionally open — as it will be for the Theremin project. The language in this aria is formal. Theo and I are imagining the language in the Theremin project to be more fluid. But they will have in common a deep sensory quality and poetic strategy appropriate to the characters at the center of their stories.
(The Achaian soldiers lay the body of Patroclus down, then retreat. Achilles steps forward slowly.)
Where is the armor I gave you, Patroclus? It was supposed to make you safe.
(Hesitantly, Achilles reaches out and lays his hand on Patroclus’ bare chest.)
You’ve been with me all my life.
My hand, my sword, my breath, my… friend.
By my side for every battle lost and won.
Promised you’d be with me ’til the end.
Where have you gone, Patroclus?
The lamp called day has lost its light.
You stayed with me when honor stayed my hand.
You stood beside me when I would not fight.
But where was I when Hector cut you down?
What kind of soldier leaves the field
of battle? Leaves his friend to die alone?
When I failed you, then my fate was sealed.
I will start a fire with your ashes.
Make the wine-dark sea turn black with blood.
We will make the same earth red
when I come and die beside you in the mud.
(Achilles slides his hand into the wound in Patroclus’ side, draws it out again, and paints his cheeks with Patroclus’ blood.)
You wanted a sword, Agamemnon.
Well, you’ve sharpened me with grief.
I’m not a soldier anymore. I’m a wolf.
Point me at Hector. I’ll tear his throat out with my teeth.
I Will Start a Fire with your Ashes – sheet music
The Resurrection Engine
“The Resurrection Engine” is a chamber opera for three singers and piano created by librettist E. M. Lewis and composer Evan Meier. It is a gothic Victorian horror story about three men who find that they have the power to bring back the dead — but begin to understand that their actions will have devastating consequences for the living.
There is a surreal quality to “The Resurrection Engine” that may be similar, in a way, to what Theo and I plan to create in the Theremin project. Language is used poetically — particularly in the numbers, two of which are indicated below.
“The World is a Clock” (aria) — 15:52 – 16:52
“Pull the Lever – Turn the Gear” (trio) — 25:35 – 27:18