Night and Fog (1987)
Baritone Voice, Baritone Saxophone, Percussion, Pre-recorded Sound (Stereo)
These three texts, by Osip Mandelstam, the Russian poet who died in the Gulag, and by Carolyn Forché, the contemporary American writer, span fifty-eight years and evoke the same darkness, the murderous State. The first and third songs are settings of Mandelstam’s “I was washing outside in the darkness” (1921), and the first two lines of “The Age” (1923), written in the harsh aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution and the famine which followed. Both poems have been translated by Clarence Brown and W.S.Merwin.
Forché’s “The Visitor” was written in 1979 after she lived for two years in El Salvador at a time when the military’s oppression was intense and the paramilitary death squads sent the numbers of the “disappeared” soaring. “Night and Fog” (“Nacht und Nebel”) was the Nazi euphemism for the Third Reich’s death camps. “Night and Fog” was commissioned by Thomas Buckner.