Syllable / A Particle Tale 

A new operatic sonic work written by Edward Jessen

“So it happens, therefore in the world of matter . . . solid things, that every element says something. But one must perhaps make an exception for carbon, as it says—because carbon says—everything to everyone. It is not specific, in the way—in the same way—that Adam is not specific to anyone, uniquely as an ancestor.”
― Primo Levi

In January 2022, in partnership with Decipherer Arts Projects, Trinity Laban will premiere Syllable—an operatic sonic theatre work. The project is a collaboration between TL’s Opera Studies and a team of professional industry artists: a rich vocabulary of shifting projections from Akhila Krishnan (59 Productions/ENO/Met Opera), set within an evocative world by designer Molly Einchcomb (National Theatre/Bristol Old Vic) with direction from Joseph Alford (Theatre O/Royal Danish Opera Academy/Bolshoi Theatre/Festival d'Aix en Provence). Syllable’s aural design will be delivered by David Sheppard (Sound Intermedia), with integrated layering between recorded narration and vocal soloists.

Syllable combines immersive images, integrated movement and evocative singing to tell the obsessive story of a carbon particle, as it moves from the far-reaches of prehistory into a moment that we recognise as the present. Butting up against this sense of deep time, amidst this unpeopled story of a nameless particle, is a vast tumble of human episodes. These are the interactions of loves and fears, seductions and jealousies, solitary dinners and executions—via characters who appear again and again—as a foreground to the slower-moving tale. This combination of main and marginal action, the integration of the fast scenes embedded into the slow drama, portrays a number of sincere and perilous questions about the value of life and how we measure it.