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There is sometimes a central theme that, over time, runs along the entire work of a certain artist. Something like a "leitmotiv", disguised and transformed into different pieces of work at different periods of his life, it does however keep its essence and basic meaning.

My personal creative journey needed to leave quite a long trail before the insistence of such themes became apparent, even to me. Because of course it is not at all granted that an artist operates consciously. I believe that the work often supersedes the artist, sometimes expressing truths so deep that he himself might need time and maturity to comprehend. In this case, the work comes first and the artist follows, often in awe, feeling he has created something beyond him, as if some superior, invisible hand led his own. Yet what seems to come from without is nothing more than a wisdom that already exists within us and is simply waiting to be discovered, or perhaps re-discovered.

The most important theme which seems to reappear so obsessively in my music is possibly death. Death, not in its usual guise, but as deterioration, as the loss of beauty and youth, which eventually lead to it. It goes hand-in-hand with the worry about this detriment, which in essence is a form of death in itself, since life is not concerned with itself, does not think about life: it is simply a life "outside time", asĀ  Octavio Paz puts it.

Death however is the central theme of Orpheus, even though the myth of Orpheus can be seen from many different angles. For the opera I chose only the ones which touch me and gave the libretto my own version, shifting the weight to them.

What originally moved me was Orpheus' compulsion to do everything, even reach Hades in order to "save" his loved one.

Another theme which I wanted to shed light on was the difficulty of accepting death. In our efforts to shield ourselves from the painful feelings of loss, we try to find a logical explanation, in vain, as none exists. Lost in incessant thoughts we look for hope, which is nothing more than our own wish to avoid the inevitable.

The plot of this opera is set at the verge of reality, making it hard to recognize whether Elpida (Hope) is an actual person, and whether descent into Hades is real or exists only in Orpheus' imagination.

The hidden as well as the obvious references in the opera are neither few nor incidental. References mainly to Monteverdi, but also other composers, work as nudges to the musical insider, adding an extra dimension, yet being incorporated in the music; at the same time they work emotionally, without becoming an obstacle to the untrained ear. What I wanted to stress with this journey in time through the references, is the timelessness of the myth. Yet once again, I tried to simultaneously create a stylistic and meaningful unity out of elements which are supposedly incongruous.

The coexistence of the opera of "Orpheus" and the two songs based on poems by Octavio Paz in this particular album is no coincidence. At first sight, there seems to be a contradiction: the inability to accept death and the superhuman effort to reverse the inevitable which we see in Orpheus, as opposed to the saying "The present is Eternal" by Octavio Paz. In Paz time achieves an infinite dimension. Death does not exist. It is but a different state of living. Whoever has experienced infinity when time stands still, does not concern himself with death. However, what Octavio Paz expresses is nothing more than the other side of the same coin. And this is evident in the fact that reality allows us to experience it from both sides, but never simultaneously, as one excludes the other. On the one side time passes and profits or losses are registered (the loss of Eurydice) and on the other time stands still and any such account has no meaning. In my version of Orpheus and Eurydice, just before the end, Orpheus has made the one big and decisive step in that direction: he has accepted reality as it is. Furthermore, shocked by his encounter with his beloved in the world of the dead, he now feels the world around him collapsing. So, he finds himself unexpectedly inside a new reality "outside time", in the same way that the sudden shock leads the Zen student to "enlightenment", which is precisely this state of "time standing still".

Vangelis Katsoulis