Insight Into Night (1979)
Duration: ca. 20 minutes
Libretto: Rolland Munro
Here hopes the heady youth
Begun in the winter of 1978, this music-theatre piece was completed during McQueen's residency at Third Eye Centre (now Centre for Contemporary Arts) in the Spring of 1979 and performed there and at the ICA in the Mall, London in March of that year.
The Edinburgh poet (now living in the Borders) Rolland Munro, wrote the fanciful text, with its mixture of logic and romantic imagery, specially for the composer. He collaborated closely with McQueen on he minimalist scenario with its projection screen and slide stills analysing the relationship between soprano and jazz singer as if on microscope samples. As well as the two voices, there are virtuoso roles for oboe and harpist.
This abstract drama is described by Munro as having four sections: Nightfall - short; Night - long; The Waking Hour - shortish; and Dawn - momentary. The two women are separate; the one (jazz) is sensuous and loving; the other (soprano) analysing in quasi-philosophical terms the breakup of her last relationship. They are united in The Waking Hour in a brief duet which combines imagery of Spring with the song of a blackbird singing in the pre-dawn gloom in expectation of a mate. As dawn breaks, the two separate again, each voicing opposing attitudes again to the birth of a new day.
MP3 audio extract (2'18"):