The Birds

Genre: Stage opera and music theatre: actor, 10 singers solo cello and percussionist


Description: A music theatre work with fast changing music for soloists and rich choruses, composed in response to a satirical libretto by Glyn Maxwell
Duration: 60 minutes
Date: 2005

Programme Note

A man wants to escape the authoritarian laws and continual litigation of the city and so goes to live with the birds. Shortly after arriving, he realises that the birds have enormous potential for growth, so advises them to develop their homeland and put in place all the warring, legal and financial structures he abhorred in Athens.

He persuades the birds to build a city in the sky, cutting off the supply of food and gifts from the humans beneath to the gods above. The plan works and the birds displace the gods as the world’s powerbrokers; the visitor is appointed President of the new city amidst legalistic ceremony.

I Fagiolini creates the primordial world of the birds that is transformed by the arrival of the human outsider, who is played by an actor. Ed Hughes’ richly harmonic music contrasts the elemental, pre-language soundworld of the birds with more complex, shimmering harmonies for the visitor. Strongly rhythmic ritual gestures feature in both vocal writing and the percussive continuo group.

An on-stage cast of twelve performers is supported by a continuo group of cello, percussion and electronics.


Juliet Pochin as Flamingo. Photo: Alistair Muir

Juliet Pochin as Flamingo.
Photo: Alistair Muir

Quote Pure magic...A rip-roaring vital spectacle...a show of terrific vitality and verve.
— Independent 1 July 2005