Willem Boogman


Protesilaos & Laodamia

Recently I completed a drastic revison of my arrangement and scoring of Rudolf Escher’s short opera Protesilaos and Laodamia.
Rudolf Escher (1912-1980) wrote this opera [›Zangspel‹] extremely fast in 1946 and left it unorchestrated.
In 1990 the Rudolf Escher Committee commissioned my arrangement and scoring of the work. It was performed in March 2004 by the Radio Chamber Orchestra conducted by Otto Tausk in the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam (ZaterdagMatinee).

protesilaos en laodamia
The text by Martinus Nijhoff is based on the story of Protesilaos, the first Greek warrior who was killed in the Troian war. Ten years after his dead Protesiloas was allowed by the Gods to return for one day to his wive Laodamia, accompanied by Hermes. At the end of the day Protesilaos has to return to the World of the Death. With the help of Hermes, having pity on her, Laodamia follows Protesilaos into the underworld, disguised as Hermes. Hermes takes up a living as a shepherd in Thessaly, something Escher probably would have done himself. Then most of his music is inspired by an idealized Mediterranean landscape and atmosphere.

In Protesilaos and Laodamia the impact of Mahler’s music on Escher is clearly present. That may be important for the general perception of his music.

The coin represents Protesilaos descending from the ship, ready to meet his fate. Thessaly, Thebai. Ca 302-286 BC. (Image courtesy of Gorny & Mosch)