Kublai spreekt (Kublai speaks)

for four voices: two tenors, baritone and bass (2008, 2’) on a text by Italo Calvino

first performance: Amsterdam/The Netherlands, Bethaniënklooster, May 10th 2009, by Arnold Marinissen and soundtrack

Kublai spreekt (Kublai speaks) was written for a story telling programme of flautist Margreet Niks, in which stories from Italo Calvino’s book Invisible Cities provided the backbone and also the title of the performance.

Arnold Marinissen provided part of the music for Invisible Cities; Kublai spreekt was written for the occasion. It is a short song for four male voices: two tenors, a baritone and a low bass. The baritone delivers the text, taken from Calvino’s book, in Dutch translation. The other three provide a groovy and warm accompaniment.

In the fragment that is used, Kublai Khan (1215-1294), Mongolian military leader and Chinese emperor, asks his advisor Marco Polo (c. 1254-1324) why, after his long and far travels, he comes to him and only tells him stories that seem to spring from his imagination, or that are perhaps memories from the past...

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