LA Opera online premiere: ‘let me come in’

April 30, 2021

LA Opera releases the latest in their online series “On Now”: David Lang’s let me come in features soprano Angel Blue, with conductor Bryan Wagorn, violist David Creswell, cellist Anja Wood, and percussionist Miles Salerni.

Co-commissioned by LA Opera and the Fisher Center at Bard College, this online premiere of let me come in is accompanied by a new film by filmmaker Bill Morrison.  Lang and LA Opera offered a recording of the finished piece to Morrison, who responded with his signature process of repurposing deteriorating early 20th century films.

let me come in is part of a series of pieces Lang has been writing over the past several years, in which he has applied different literary filters to the text of the biblical ‘Song of Songs.’

Lang explains:

The idea behind this series is that if we look at the text from many different angles it may eventually begin to reveal more of its emotional and spiritual powers.  Or at least that is the hope.

For this song, I started with one verse in the King James version of the text, where the woman is awaiting the knock of her lover on her door.

5:2  I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night

I love the sense of waiting for something beautiful to happen, the anticipation of the moment, and also I love that the narrator hasn’t moved to open the door yet – the sensuousness of the waiting is more powerful for her, and for us, than the actual physicality of meeting.

Of course, these texts were originally in Hebrew, then translated and mistranslated into Greek and Latin and eventually English, and their various translations have changed the details of their various meanings.  Many of these are intentional mistranslations; different Christian denominations, for example, have their own shaded versions of the text, in an attempt to lower the temperature of the original, to tone down its sensuality, or to make it seem more like a metaphor, or like a dream.

I took 17 different versions of this verse, each slightly different, and then I alphabetized their phrases and got rid of all the duplicated lines, in order to make one single text, with all its interpretive angles shown.

let me come in is dedicated to Sophie Claudel, in memory of Frédéric Bonnemaison.

let me come in represents LA Opera’s and Lang’s third production together.  LA Opera premiered his opera anatomy theater in June 2016 and presented his opera the loser in February 2019.

let me come in also continues Lang’s long collaborative relationship with filmmaker Bill Morrison.  Morrison’s film The Village Detective: A Song Cycle, with original soundtrack by David Lang, premiered 27 April 2021 at the Moscow Film Festival and will have a theatrical release in the Fall.  The original soundtrack album is available on Cantaloupe Music.