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Derek Ball Agony in the Garden Version 2: "The Satanic Version" (2011) 25'
SATB / B-cl Hn Pf Vn Vc Db
Notes: A short comic chamber opera
We wrote this opera using the American system. You look puzzled - let me explain. We assembled a group of ideas men (The Agony Committee) whose remit was simple: give the audience a laugh-out-loud gag every 30 seconds at least; if you don't, you're fired. That got them thinking I can tell you! People of a religious disposition may be worried by the title of the opera. Let me assure them that any similarity between some aspects of the scenario and a famous religious story (a favourite of baroque composers) is either coincidental or part of a mature thought-provoking debate, I'm not sure which: that Agony Committee don't talk to me much these days, and they've stolen the keys of my drinks cabinet. Anyway, religious people can gain comfort from the truism that if we all go to Hell in a hand-cart, we have nobody to blame but ourselves. To make things worse, farts and faecal incontinence (the two final taboos) figure prominently. Now that I try to describe it, I'm starting to disapprove of this opera myself. I had no idea how bad it sounded. Or would sound if I could hear myself think - the Agony Committee is meeting again in the next room and I fail to understand why they need to make quite so much noise.