Appendix: Synopsis of songs in Cyclops: A Rock Opera

Notes by Chas Libretto
Psittacus Productions

Some further notes on each of the songs in our developing show.

The band is Jayson Marcus, Paul Corning, Stephen Edelstein, and Benjamin Sherman. The maenads are Nicole Flanigan, Madeleine Hamer, and Liz Saydah.

  1. "O Dionysus" ‑‑ Louis sings this opening number. It's entirely Shelley's verse translation.
  2. "Strophe/Epode/Iacchic Melody" ‑‑ More Shelley, with many of the passages about shepherding edited. Jay and Ben had been listening to a lot of mid‑70s soft rock acts, notably "Cecilio and Kapono," but in the end I think the song ended up sounding a bit like Canadian prog‑rock band Rush.
  3. "Siren Song" ‑‑ this is one that Ben and I wrote. As I began working with Ben and Jay, I wanted to stress that they needn't feel limited by the Euripides/Shelley script, and if that there was a song they wanted to write, they ought to go for it. So, Ben handed me a "Siren Song" that didn't quite reflect the story in the Odyssey, and I added a couple verses that summed up what actually happened to Odysseus and his crew. Never mind that the Siren episode actually happens a great deal later than the Cyclops episode in Homer, but what we have is a pretty great alt‑folk song, I think!
  4. "Put Your Elbow Right" ‑‑ This one's a mix of Shelley and Jay. Basically, we figured the introduction of wine was a huge enough event to the plot that it deserved it's own song, and what we ended up with was vaguely Irish‑sounding drinking song!
  5. "More for the Whore" ‑‑ the first "original" tune written for the show: the joking about gang‑raping Helen is such a bizarre and uncomfortable moment in so many of the translations, that I was puzzled by it basically not existing in the Shelley (until I remembered it was written in 1819). Anyway, I gave Jay about three different versions of the scene, and he wrote this song based on those.
  6. "Here Comes the Cyclops" ‑‑ This one came fairly late in the process. I was reading up on how The Who's Tommy came to be, and realized that we didn't quite have our Pinball Wizard yet, and that the demos of so many of the songs were rather down‑tempo. I left Jay with the challenge of a) writing a song he really wanted to sing, b) giving the Cyclops an entrance (this was well before we knew Jay would play the Cyclops, and well more than a month before "Bloodier than the Cherry"), and c) writing an up‑tempo rock song!
  7. "Bloodier than the Cherry" (the aria) is a rock adaptation of "Ruddier than the Cherry," a Polyphemus song from Handel's "Acis and Galatea" opera (where it's a song about love, not cannibalism). This came quite late in the process, probably only 3 weeks or so before we opened.
  8. "For Your Gaping Gulf" ‑‑ literally the first song we did, back in early October. Lou and I both wanted a version of Cyclops that was our own, but I wasn't feeling confident I could adapt any of the translations into my own language, nor was I comfortable with it being a "punk band" on‑stage… nor did I think the genre had enough versatility for a whole evening. So, late at night, I pulled this passage from the Shelley script (the Satyrs talking about what the Cyclops does to strangers) and gave it to Jay, who'd just moved here, and I said, "want to do this project we're working on?" A day later there was a song, and we were off and running.
  9. "An End to the Sea" (the Polynesian number) ‑‑ I felt like Odysseus was fairly bland and didn't have enough to do in this show, so I wrote the lyrics to this (fairly early on, too) and Jay decided to go in a kind of South Pacific direction with those lyrics. The ukulele entered into it quite late actually: I only had about three weeks to learn how to play it!
  10. "Cyclops Suite" ("Who is First/Cyclops Blues/One with Eye the Fairest") ‑‑ This one's weird: the first part returns to a kind of 70s prog‑rock sound, the second part is straight up blues (it was written early on, when we still thought we'd find a large actor to play the Cyclops). The final part was a return to the 'prog' sound, and was what eventually inspired us to include Dionysus in our production (since the lyrics are so bizarre and un‑Satyr‑y).
  11. "Put Your Elbow Right reprise" ‑‑ the last song added, a week before we opened. We felt like there was too much dialogue leading up to the concert part of the show. Again, Jay wrote it, but it's pretty closely adapted from the Shelley.
  12. "Sodomy" ‑‑ written around the same time as "Here Comes the Cyclops," this one came with my "more up‑tempo" songs challenge. This one, like "More for the Whore" came out of wanting to include the fairly explicit rape scene between Polyphemus and Silenus that's only hinted at in Shelley, but we made it more consensual.
  13. "Soon a Crab" ‑‑ more Shelley. This one has an Ozzy Osbourne feel to it. We were inspired by his '80s album Killer of Giants. The second half, with the Satyrs, was a late addition, as the dialogue wasn't playing, and we thought parodying the intense Ozzy song right after it had finished might work. It's one of my favorite moments in the show.
  14. "Hasten and Thrust" ‑‑ Ben wrote the music to this one, with Shelley providing the lyrics. We wanted a kind of  "thrash‑metal" sound for the blinding.
  15. "Nobody, Nowhere" ‑‑ We wanted to have a bigger payoff to Odysseus calling himself "Nobody." Honestly, it didn't become the kind of trance/disco/methamphetamine song it's become until the drummer got excited about what the lighting designer was doing.
  16. "I'm a Cyclops" ‑‑ Kind of a "Hey Jude" number.
  17. "There Goes the Cyclops" ‑‑ basically a reprise of "Here Comes the Cyclops." More "rockabilly," and an adaptation, for the most part, of Shelley.

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