When Igor Stravinsky set music to A Soldier’s Tale at the turn of the 20th century, he didn’t have much. But the characters and themes show that no one can have everything.
“A Soldier’s Tale is about anything,” said Sebastian Knowles, who plays the narrator. “It’s about abstinence, it’s about loss, regret and the need to turn away from materiality.”
The Johnstone Fund for New Music and Columbus’s own dancers, musicians and speakers presented Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale at the Columbus Foundation on May 1st.
Knowles said the classic debate between good and evil dominates the play.
The devil tempts a Russian soldier with only three possessions on his way home from the war, said David Niwa, who plays violin in the show.
“He makes the deal and well, you know what happens when we make the deals with the devil,” Niwa said.
The devil offered the soldier everything when he had nothing, Knowles said.
“No one can have it all,” Knowles said. “It is forbidden.”
Knowles said it’s important to remember how destitute Stravinsky was when he wrote the play.
“His whole sort of psyche has been shattered by the collapse of his whole world because of the Russian revolution,” Knowles said.
Stravinsky worked on this play at a time when worlds were fighting for blood, land, treasure and all kinds of things, Knowles said.
“We know this world today, it exists now,” Knowles said. ”And so it becomes very much a parable for our times.”
Read More: The Johnstone Fund for New Music (website)