Tookah Sapper, soprano
Kelly Horsted, piano
This companion-piece to 'Penelope' is also an homage to Harold Arlen’s 'Stormy Weather' (lyrics by Ted Koehler), which begins:
Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky
Since my man and I ain't together,
Keeps rainin' all of the time
It’s a poignant, yearning love-song, one that Kalypso – the nymph/demi-god of Homer’s Odyssey – could well have sung. After the storm which shipwrecked him on his way home from Troy to Ithaca (and to his waiting wife, Penelope) Odysseus was swept off-course to Kalypso’s island, and she held him there (against his will, but not really) for seven years, with some combination of seduction, timely bad weather that prevented sailing, and general relaxation and good times. Eventually, the greater gods grew frustrated with her and sent him on his way home, to Penelope. I’d imagined Penelope’s experience – her long vigil on the headland, her fierce, tenacious loyalty – as a sort of torch song, a language I explore even further here. Kalypso’s plea-apostrophe is set in a warm, tender, jazz-rich, Chopin-esque language in which the beat is blurred through long, decorative vocal lines and strange Monteverdian speech-stammer word-breakdown – which hints at something stranger and more peculiar in her powers. There are many musical connections here with Penelope, particularly in both pieces’ middle sections, which reach for something more bare and visionary. Each woman calls out to Odysseus, tries to summon him back to her, and in this moment their music speaks in the same tongue. Kalypso (whose name shares its root with "apocalypse": to cover, conceal, hide, deceive) was also a demi-god of death, one who drew the veil between reality and the afterlife.
I don’t know why my skin seems thin,
or why I’m tired all the time.
I wish the rain could break this heat;
there’s not a cloud left in the sky.
I don’t know why I should repeat
this sad old fallacy: somehow
the weather thinks that we should be
together; night comes around, but
it’s too hot for me to sleep, now
so much of what we had, you took–
took with you, when you went away.
I know I sound– I know I look
like I’ve got something on my mind;
there’s really nothing left to say
or raise in vain against the tides.
It’s nothing– nevermind; it’s just
a wish, that if it’s not too much,
if it’s alright, some night I’d like
to walk out in the rain, again,
come home, to sleep, to drift, and dream
off to a world elsewhere, with you,
where it keeps raining all the time.
– Duncan McFarlane