Just as the Ouroboros Snake is reborn and reincarnated, so too does each opera in the Trilogy reincarnate one into the other.
OUROBOROS is the ancient Greek word denoting the tail-devouring snake. It represents the cycle of birth-death-rebirth, for as the snake eats itself it dies; yet its own body provides sustenance for its rebirth. In Ouroboros Trilogy, this ever moving circle is depicted in our logo shown above – the Ouroboros is chasing its tail in a clockwise direction; the three operas comprising the Trilogy also move in a clockwise direction. Hence, we can start the Trilogy with any one of Naga, Madame White Snake or Gilgamesh, and indeed, we intend to do so. We plan three cycles of the Trilogy and each cycle will start with a different opera. As long as we move clockwise following the Ouroboros Snake, the three operas (each of which stand alone), will form a coherent whole. I believe that any audience member who attends all three cycles will leave with a totally different experience of the whole, as one’s perspective is shaped by where you start.
Just as the Ouroboros Snake is reborn and reincarnated, so too does each opera in the Trilogy reincarnate one into the other. The composers reincarnate, the conductors reincarnate and of course, the characters reincarnate from opera to opera. Only myself, the librettist, and the director, Michael Counts, are the same. Michael brings visual unity to the whole and as librettist, I’ve built in structural unity by repeating certain key aria, words or phrases in all three opera.
During the course of history, the enigmatic OUROBOROS has been a source of attraction and fascination for artists, philosophers, psychologists, alchemists and dreamers. I’ve included a few images to illustrate the ubiquity of this symbol.
One of the first depictions of Ouroboros, on papyrus, dating back 3,000 years to ancient Egypt.
A 15th century alchemist's rendition of the Ouroboros
The Greek Ouroboros of the Chrysopeia of Cleopatra
Double Ouroboros, 18th century copy of a much older image
Ancient Chinese grave ornament by the Hong-shan people, about 6,000 years old. This Neolithic people made jade amulets to be buried with their dead. This amulet of a "zhulong", or pig-dragon, may be the beginning of the evolution of the Ouroboros symbol.
Ancient Egyptian figure 8 Ouroboros depicting wholeness and infinity.
Note that sometimes the Ouroboros Snake moves in a clockwise direction (as in our logo) and sometimes it moves counterclockwise. The direction of movement is important. Moving clockwise denotes moving into the future, following the movement of the sun, hence, life; moving counterclockwise is moving backwards into your past, against the sun’s motion, hence, death.
The world premiere of Ouroboros Trilogy was presented by ArtsEmerson in the 2016-17 season at the Cutler Majestic Theater:
September 10: Naga, Madame White Snake, Gilgamesh
September 13: Madame White Snake
September 14: Gilgamesh
September 15: Naga
September 17: Gilgamesh, Naga, Madame White Snake
Ouroboros Trilogy is dedicated by Cerise to Charles, with whom everything is possible.
Click links at bottom of page to read more about each project.