Drought in Eden
The Biblical story of the Garden—Music Theatre for a time of climate calamity.
[The] Sumerians. . .with their mad irrigation schemes, turned what the Jews considered Eden and the Christians call Paradise into a desert.
Ronald Wright, A History of Progress, 2005.
Script/Music – David Lidov, with contributions noted in Acknowledgements.
Drought in Eden is a full-length musical adaptation of the Biblical tale of the Garden understood as an ecological crisis caused by the original sin of greed. Though much in our presentation is comic or absurd, the story remains a tragedy. Generous in their youth, Adam and Eve are misled by the Serpent and by ambition to exploit the Garden. Serpent’s gift of an Apple Nano brings Adam and Eve to the modern world. They rise to a giddy entrepreneurial success only to descend into tormented maturity as their work exhausts the Garden, bringing drought to Eden. The two immortal characters, God and Serpent, mercurial and episodic in their passions, express pride, sorrow and jealousy well known to mortals. From the pastoral opening through the dark conclusion, play and artifice punctuate the narrative and modulate its tonalities. The music is rhythmic and tuneful. Dislocations of time and context in the plot find their counterpart in a cross play of changing musical forms. There is no chorus. Sets are minimal though video is essential. Nearly all passages that might have been spoken are rapped. Integral to the drama is its unusual scheme of sound production with the quiet, natural sound of the opening becoming raucous and electric towards the climax.
Adam, baritone; Eve, soprano; God, alto; The Serpent, tenor, often disguised (delivery person, accountant, agribusiness engineer.)
(Parts 1-7) Within the Garden. (Parts 8-9) Without the Garden. (Interludes) Out of this world.
Now and Then. — Adam and Eve age about four years between Parts.
(full version) violin, cello, upright bass (doubling e-bass) acoustic guitar (doubling e-gtr) flute, sax, keyboard, percussion.
The first six Parts are separated by Interludes with Serpent and God.
(Numbers in parentheses are chapter and verse in Genesis)
Part 1 [Naming the Animals]. Adam is naming the animals logically, scientifically. (2:19) Eve, impatient with Adam’s enormous project, wants him to take time off from classification and try multiplication (1:28). She fears he is too young for a commitment. In Monogamy, he seems ready to come around until his first glimpse of a duck-billed platypus jeopardises his research. Trailing it, he runs off, leaving Eve fuming. Demo
Part 2 [Forbidden Fruit]. The Serpent teaches Eve about the great world beyond the Garden. (You Live in an Idyll) He persuades her not to take God’s prohibition regarding the Tree of Knowledge too literally. He presents a tablet, wirelessly connecting to the Apple Tree. (3:1-5). Adam is momentarily dismayed to come upon them but is lost in browsing as Eve and Serpent reprise Serpent’s ballad. Adam discovers a world of widespread hunger. The garden’s surplus will help. To Eve’s delight, Adam abandons pure science for applied. An enterprise is born.
Part 3 [Fig Leaves]. Seeds of doubt and falsity take root when Adam and Eve are prodded and embarrassed by the Serpent, now disguised as a delivery person who brings them credit cards and synthetic fertilizers. In response to him, they determine to adapt their ‘image’ to fit their new entrepreneurial roles (3:7). In the interlude that closes the first half, Serpent’s little solo song (Works without Love) reveals the deep melancholy and sardonic pessimism beneath his mischief.
Part 4 [The Work Ethic]. Irrigation has lowered the water table. Eve is coughing from pesticide odours and Adam, suffering headaches from the noise of her canning factory is popping pills. They are haunted by their wish to share their new wealth, but Serpent (now as the accountant) is in no rush for Adam and Eve to get involved in charities. Yielding to greed, they drop even the pretence of good will.
Part 5 [Making it Big]. Adam and Eve on cells direct an international conglomerate. Adam is relentlessly vicious. Eve can match him. But Eve’s bad conscience about carcinogens begins to change her way just before Adam flies out on his biggest sales trip ever.
Part 6 [Catastrophe]. Adam, with new contracts, returns from his trip triumphant. Eve confronts him with news that the River (2:10) has dried up and the Garden has died in the drought. Adam falls into panic and denial. They call 9-1-1. First responder Serpent (as agro-engineer) promises he will fix it. Eve is not fooled. At last, Adam and Eve pray to God. God raps back: They are too late. Demo
Part 7 [The Expulsion]. God Enters. We had seen her in the Interludes but not, until now, on Earth. She vents her fury, arousing the moral passions of Adam and Eve. They turn against Serpent. Devastation and conflagration ensue, and Serpent looses his wheels. (3:14) Adam and Eve are expelled. (3:15-24) —Left alone with us, God, in abject grief, mourns the ruin of her Gardens and bewails ever trusting us with free will in a grand, da capo aria with e-guitar obligato.
Part 8 [Modern Life]. Adam and Eve, working stiffs in a tawdry urban environment, sustain a marriage cemented by guilt. They reprise Monogamy, no longer a peppy samba but a slow, bitter tango.
The short Tag Ending restores us to mirth via a moment of satire and a moral example. News of the planet hurts, and we can’t respond forcefully if we wall off the pain. We return to mirth because gaiety helps reconnect our mental compartments. Even if you bite your tongue, we must try for charitable laughter.
Now available — the Book, Piano-Vocal Scores. Our first music demos; more are in production. firstname.lastname@example.org