Sera

Synopsis

The Chorus – Lilith’s (invisible) Sect – praises the beautiful Silence. Lilith enters, and together with The Sect she praises and thanks God. God, resigned and with a cold, wanders around in his own heaven, listening to prayers in all the languages of the world. An angel, the childish and playful messenger Sera, makes fun of the prayers. But she becomes deadly serious when she hears Lilith’s prayer, asking God to send down his messenger because her great project has been completed. Sera believes that Lilith is mad, and tries to shirk her duty, but God orders her to go. Sera obeys, telling God that he will regret it. Sera and Lilith meet. Even though Lilith tries to appear humble, their mutual dislike for one another is unmistakable. While Sera wants to be done quickly, Lilith belabors the fact that her lifework is now complete, and that Sera must promise to safely deliver the final CDs to God. Sera replies that she can always be relied upon. But as a pile of CDs is handed to her, one of them falls to the ground. Lilith gets mad at Sera, but her rage turns into a convulsive seizure, in which she is overpowered by a horrible, inner noise. Sera contemplates the suffering woman, wondering why Lilith can’t understand that the problem is located inside her head, and not caused by the sounds of the exterior world? Sera sings about Lilith’s plan to free the world from noise and introduce The Great Silence. Sera hates the project, and has decided to do something about it, but she can’t do it herself. Therefore she has chosen a man – an Abel – who loves sound above all other things. Sera is convinced that he will understand what is about to happen, and put an end to the madness.

In his studio, Abel is working with the creation and exploration of sounds. He is a workaholic sound freak, and his wife has recently left him. They are fighting noisily on the phone about their settlement, when Sera rings at the door. Abel doesn’t want to open, but Sera manages to get in nevertheless. The sceptical Abel is both dumbfounded and a bit apprehensive at having an angel come to visit. He wants to know who she is and what she wants? Sera answers cryptically that, since Abel loves sound, he will soon both understand and act. With one finger Sera touches Abel’s forehead, and she is gone. When Abel soon after discovers a CD, hovering in mid-air, he becomes frightened. Should he make a phone call? The police, the press, his mom? But curiosity triumphs over fear. He decides to play the CD, and hears a collection of all sorts of sounds. Abel is still working when Lilith comes barging in, demanding back her CD. Abel denies having anything that belongs to her, but Lilith and her Sect torture and hurt him until he hands it over. Lilith wants to know whether Sera has revealed what is on it? Abel shakes his head. Lilith answers that he should be glad. Otherwise things would be looking grim for him. When Lilith has disappeared, Abel reveals that he has made a copy… Back in God’s heaven Sera delivers the CDs, and God archives them in his gigantic, heavenly library. Sera feels that she is now entitled to a holiday. For at least 1000 years! Following tough negotiations, they agree on 500. Sera leaves heaven just as Lilith’s voice is heard. She is calling for God. Abel is in his studio, listening to the copy of the mysterious CD and reflecting upon the phenomenon of sound. What does sound actually mean to human beings?

Suddenly Sera appears, and immediately understands that Lilith has been there and hurt Abel. She dresses his wounds and tries to find out how much he has gathered bylistening to the CD. They are interrupted by God, summoning Sera. In order for Abel not to see God’s countenance and die, she renders him unconscious. God reveals himself, accusing Sera of meddling with his work. Sera tries to defend herself by explaining that Lilith’s plan would lead to a catastrophe. But God doesn’t want to listen. Sadly he avows that he shall have to punish Sera and send her into nothingness. Sera desperately tries to convince God that for once she is right, and He is wrong. But God simply commands Sera to fetch the missing CD from Lilith and bring it up to him. At once! Sera awakens Abel and tells him about the danger they are facing: as soon as God receives the final CD, The Great Silence will commence. This will mean a world without sounds! Abel does not know how he can stop this from happening. Sera begs him to simply love sound and create sounds, just as he usually does. She draws a magic protective ring around Abel before she leaves. When Sera and Lilith meet, Lilith is furious. Sera attempts to talk Lilith out of what she believes to be an insane plan. But Lilith, with God on her side, is utterly convinced that she is creating paradise. All this noise has held humans imprisoned inside themselves, and has lead them away from their true, genuine selves. Only

Silence can set them free again. As Sera is about to leave with the last CD, excited shouting is heard from The Sect (Chorus). They have discovered that Abel is about to create new sounds. Lilith calls out that he must be stopped! Lilith comes to see Abel, but cannot stop him, since he is protected by the magic circle. Inside of the circle, Abel is producing new, electronic sounds. Lilith attempts to convince Abel that sound is chaos and death, and that silence alone will lead to peace and a better life. But Abel believes that sound is life, and that life is sound. He thinks that Lilith should rather punch out her own ears than to force a silence upon him and others that they do not wish. Lilith manages to restrain Abel from any further sound production, and tells him that all the sounds he just made had already been recorded. She holds the CD triumphantly up into the air, when Abel jumps out of the circle, grasps the CD, and breaks it. Lilith gets another seizure. She orders The Sect to restrain Abel, places a set of headphones over his ears, and turns up the volume so loud that he finally dies from it! Sera cannot do a thing. And now God appears! Both Lilith and Sera are naturally appalled and try to find excuses for themselves. But Sera is sent away into nothingness. Lilith knows that she must be condemned to eternal silence, and punches out her own ears. Abel is left lying alone on the ground. Sera comes sneaking in and breathes new life into him. She gives Abel a final angelic kiss and disappears before he has completely come to his senses again.

In heaven, God wanders around, listening to prayers, still resigned and with a cold. Sera tries to console and tend to him, not caring that God thinks she has been

 

1999

Voices: 4 Voices(SA/MTB-Bar)
Choir(SSMTBarB)
Orchestration: 2(1)-2(1)-0-0 1-1-1-0 perc pf/synth/sample
Tape: 2 vln:2 vcl:2 cb
Text: (Nor) Axel Hellstenius
Publisher: NB noter, Oslo