As a queer person, I've always been enthralled by the story and history of Sappho, long held up as the source of the term “lesbian” to describe women who are attracted to women, coming from her home on the Greek island of Lesbos. I had long wanted to set her work—something about the connection to a long-past history and her simply evocative and rich language struck me every time I came across it.
Unfortunately, most of her poetry exists in quoted fragments, ruining any hope of a “pure” setting. Instead, after literal years of staring at the poetry, I began to form a story of two people who fell in love and were torn apart. [riven] is the result.
[riven] has not been premiered. If you are interested in premiering this work, contact me.
Unfortunately, there is no audio yet. Please check back soon!
riven /ˈɹɪvən/ - torn apart; broken into pieces; split asunder.
In her time, Sappho was included in the canon of lyric poets, and referred to as the “tenth Muse” and merely as “the Poetess”. Her poetry exists in our time primarily as fragments, mostly quoted in ancient Greek texts on poetry, meter, or the Aeolic dialect she used. Why so much of the poetry of such an esteemed poet of the ancient world was lost, when the works of some of her contemporaries have been far better preserved, is a mystery.
“riven” refers both to the characters in the imagined dialogue and the fragmented text that comprises it.
[riven] is dedicated to Austen, for her birthday.