Besse Trilogy

"Come and enjoy beer made into music – sometimes merrily crispy, sometimes soured with the frozen cold dagger of drama, and sometimes bitterly sweet. These are definitely two hours of refreshingly hoppy music for all.” 

Daniel Blanco Albert



Opera in three acts // Series of three micro-operas

 

Cast:

 

Besse - Soprano

Old Woman - Mezzo

Camille - Baritone

Inquisitor - Soprano

 

Mini solo roles (as part of the chorus)

 

Angry Sick Costumer #1 - mezzo or baritone

Angry Sick Costumer #2 - soprano

Fanatic Witch Hunter - soprano or tenor 

 

Chorus (it can be amateur)

 

(25' + 25' + 40' )

 

Instrumentation:

 

Clarinet in Bb

Percussion

 

Harpsichord

 

Violin

Viola

Cello

 

 



Plot

Besse.

 

 

Water, Hops & Rye.

 

Besse lives in medieval England on the cusp of social change. She is in love with beer and the independence it affords her as she follows in the footsteps and traditions of the brewing goddesses and brewsters of the Sumerian civilization over 5000 years before her.

 

The year is 1348 AD and England is a changing land. If Besse does not act fast the power of beer will soon be taken from her. Against the backdrop of the Black Death and tortured by accusations of witchcraft she must navigate her way through the difficult and dangerous world that surrounds her to practice the art of fermentation to its greatest heights.


I - Water

Scene 1 – A fatidical night at Besse’s tavern the beer runs out and the crowd complains. Desperate for money, Camille forces Besse to serve rotten beer despite her worries about her reputation as a Brewster.

 

Scene 2 – Besse seeks for advise from the Old Woman in the woods. She tells her that with the new law she will lose the control of her tavern, and therefore her little independence, unless she becomes a widow. The Old Woman suggests her to kill Camille with a herb.



“So in fact, it’s quite fitting that Besse’s tale is told in the kind of environment where she would have lived and worked, as well as enjoyed a night of entertainment. So, head on to Digbrew, purchase a pint and pull up a pew for a slice of medieval entertainment, with a thoroughly modern twist.”

Miranda Heggie (The Cusp) // shorturl.at/glKQ0


II - Rye

Scene 1 – Besse sings an “Ode to Beer” while deciding what to do. She finally decides to use the poison. But, the arrival of a furious horde of plague-sick people distracts her from using the correct dose. They claim she has poisoned them. Camille tries to calm them, but one of them dies, worsening the situation. To defend his business and prove that the beer wasn’t poisoned, he drinks the now-poisoned beer. He hallucinates while everybody dies around him. Besse escapes.

 

Scene 2 – Besse comes back to the woods seeking for help. The Old Woman is happy to hear that Camille drank the poison and tries to cheer Besse up. But Camille arrives to the woods looking for Besse. He keeps hallucinating, and now he is very sweet saying that he loves her and begging her for forgiveness. To do so, she demands him to sign a contract in which he gives the tavern to her. The Old Woman, however, poisons him again. Besse contemplates his death, thinking he died because of her.



- Jared Ice: “People keep asking how do you make opera cool? Give them beer and pizza man!” 

- Michael Pegher: “There’s not an opera house in the world that’s offering you beer and pizza!”

Sex, Drugs and Opera 


III - Hops

Scene 1 – A crowd has taken the tavern. They want to organise a witch hunt. An Inquisitor leads an investigation, if she can find a proof of witchcraft, she will allow it. Finally, she finds the poisoned beer, evidence enough to lead the witch hunt.

 

Scene 2 – In the woods the Old Woman buries the corpse of Camille. Besse blames herself for what happened. The Old Woman recommends her to find a cure to the plague and clean her name. She shows her how. But in the middle of this a procession arrives to the hut and captures Besse. The Old Woman escapes.

 

Scene 3 – The trial takes place at Besse’s tavern. It is a social event, and the crowd drinks beer amused. While the Inquisitor is praying to the crowd, the Old Woman approaches Besse and tells her that she has poisoned the beer and gives her an extra dose and an antidote. The crowd starts getting fatally ill and accuse Besse of being a witch. But she offers to help them, succeeding in curing one of them. That success is her punishment. That proves the Inquisitor she is a witch. Desperate, Besse drinks the poison, leaving the tavern to the Old Woman.



Performances

  • 8th March 2019 - Première of Besse - Water

Performed by Infinite Opera at DigBrew Co, in collaboration with Grand Union

 

 

  • 12th April 2019 - Première of Besse - Rye

Performed by Infinite Opera at DigBrew Co, in collaboration with Grand Union

 

 

  • 10th May 2019 - Première of Besse - Hops

Performed by Infinite Opera at DigBrew Co, in collaboration with Grand Union

 

 

  • 26th July 2019 - Besse - full performance

Performed by Infinite Opera at DigBrew Co, Birmingham Beer Week

https://www.grapevinebirmingham.com/infinite-operas-halloween-besse-at-digbrew/

 

 

  • 1st November 2019 - Besse - full performance

Performed by Infinite Opera at DigBrew Co, Halloween Special

https://www.grapevinebirmingham.com/beer-and-opera-make-dig-brew-the-besse-place-for-halloween/

 

 

  • 17th June 2020 - Screening of Besse

CODA Festival

https://thesampler.org/event/infinite-operas-besse-trilogy-coda-festival/

 

 


Media

Podcast - Besse

Hops - Scene 2