norway odyssey

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Odysseus Unwound - Education and Outreach
NORWAY - OVERVIEW

ODYSSEUS IN THE LAND OF THE FIRE GIANTS

These workshops are a fusion of the Odyssey story and Norse mythology. Odysseus meets the Cyclops, Polyphemus, the Sirens and narrowly escapes destruction in the whirlpool Charybdis. Following these misadventures our story moves north to a terrifying island of heat and fire, Muspelheim, which is  home to a race of Fire Giants related to the Cyclops.

Surtr, 'the Black One', is king of the Fire Giants and word has already reached him of Odysseus' dreadful treatment of Polyphemus. Odysseus is bedraggled and humbled before mighty Surtr in his palace of fire. When Odysseus begs for help in returning home, Surtr refuses and is so incensed with rage at Odysseus’ impertinence that he sets fire to his own palace. So our story ends with the destruction of the world - Ragnarök in Norse.

WARM-UP GAMES INCLUDE THE 'NAME GAME' WITH ACTIONS & LEARNING A RHYTHM USING THE ‘CAST OFF’ MUSIC FROM THE OPERA, AS A COPYING GAME – THIS RHYTHM SERVES AS THE RHYTHMIC MOTIF FOR THE WHOLE COMPOSITION. LEARNING OF THE RHYTHM IS IMPROVED BY SPLITTING INTO 3 GROUPS AND INTRODUCING COMPETITION THROUGH TEAMWORK. FINALLY THE WORDS 'IN ENGLISH' ARE INTRODUCED. THE WORDS ARE ALTERED FROM THE OPERA ORIGINAL TO REPRESENT OUR STORY - CHANGE WORDS TO:

“HEAR HIM, FEAR HIM,
BLACK AS NIGHT,
BLAZING BRIGHT
KING OF FIRE,
KING OF FIRE,
KING OF FIRE,
SURTR”.

THIS CHANT FORMS THE FINAL CATACLYSMIC SECTION ‘RAGNARÖK’ AND ALSO THE OPENING ENSEMBLE SECTION PERFORMED AS A WHISPER.

ENSEMBLE SECTION 1:-

Everyone claps out the rhythmic motif at the beginning of the opera. Firstly with one finger on the palm of the hand, repeated twice, then twice with two fingers crescendoing as more fingers are used until the whole hand is used. This segues into the first individual group composition.

GROUP 1:-

Odysseus and his men find themselves on a foreign island. They explore and find a cave. Inside is a large quantity of cheese. The men start eating the cheese as they are starving after their long journey. Odysseus is concerned that they are uninvited. Suddenly a huge giant Cyclops, Polyphemus appears and seeing the men eating the cheese, grabs and eats some of Odysseus' men. Horrified Odysseus begs the Cyclops to stop. He ignores Odysseus and eats another man. Odysseus cunningly suggests the Cyclops take some wine to make the human flesh taste better. The Cyclops drinks the poisoned wine and soon falls asleep. Odysseus quickly drives a stake through the Cyclops' single eye. The blinded Cyclops wakes in agony but is unable to see Odysseus and his men escaping amongst the Cyclops' sheep. Having escaped the Cyclops Odysseus and his men set sail once more. Relieved they do not suspect the danger to come......

THE CHILDREN CREATE MUSIC WITH CLASSROOM PERCUSSION AND THEIR VOICES TO ACCOMPANY THE DRAMA ENACTMENT OF THIS PART OF THE STORY.

GROUP 2:-

The survivors make for a peaceful looking island. On arrival, some men go exploring and they discover a beautiful woman called Circe, who is alone on the island. The men are captivated by Circe. She offers them food and wine, which they accept gratefully, not realising that the food is tainted with poison. Circe is an enchantress. At her command the men turn into pigs and therefore cannot escape from Circe's island. Odysseus, meanwhile, has been forewarned of Circe and her magic. He drinks a potion that makes him impervious to Circe and her spells. Circe is scared of Odysseus' power to repell her magic and so releases Odysseus' men on his command.  They sail away.

THE CHILDREN CREATE MUSIC WITH CLASSROOM PERCUSSION AND THEIR VOICES TO ACCOMPANY THE DRAMA ENACTMENT OF THIS PART OF THE STORY.

ENSEMBLE SECTION 2:-

GROUP 1 BECOME GALLEY SLAVES ON ODYSSEUS' SHIP THEY SIT AT THE FRONT OF THE SHIP AND ROW TO THE BEAT OF THE DRUM. THEY SING "HEAVE-HO" WITH EVERY OAR STROKE

GROUP 2 PROVIDE A STEADY DRUM BEAT THAT DRIVES THE SHIP FORWARD.

GROUP 3 FORM A HUMAN WHIRLPOOL TO REPRESENT THE NEXT CALAMITY TO BEFALL ODYSSEUS, CHARYBDIS. HOLDING HANDS THEY FORM TWO CIRCLES INSIDE ONE ANOTHER. THEY MOVE IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS. AS THE WHIRLPOOL SPEEDS UP AND DRAGS THE SHIP TOWARDS IT THE SHIP'S OARSMEN ARE THROWN FROM THE SHIP AND ARE SHIPWRECKED....

GROUP 3:-

Odysseus and his remaining men find themselves abandoned on a strange and terrifying new island of fire and heat - Muspelheim. With no ship to guide them home they gather themselves into a motley crew, their clothes in tatters with no possessions. It's now many years since they saw their families back in Ithaca. They arrive at a gigantic palace, which is home to Surtr, King of the Fire Giants. Surtr and his henchmen giants process into their Great Hall to loud drums and fanfares. By contrast Odysseus and his bedraggled crew, now cowed and worn down by misfortune, hobble forward to present themselves before the fearsome Fire Giants to faint bells and broken drums. Surtr and his cohorts present themselves in deafening tones. Odysseus and his men beg for mercy but Surtr is enraged to discover this ragamuffin is responsible for blinding his brother giant Polyphemus. Surtr's rage is so incandescent that he sets fire to his own palace, so beginning the end of the world, known as Ragnarök.

ENSEMBLE SECTION 3:-

Our opera ends with the same rhythmic motif woven throughout the composition. This time representing the terrible scene of Ragnarök with a deafening unison chant of "Hear Him, Fear Him, Black as Night, Blazing Bright. King of Fire, King of Fire, King of Fire, SURTR!"

This workshop model was used for two groups at the Stangelandskola in Sandnes on October 19 and also at the school in the sheep commune at Vikeså on October 22. These workshops were delivered to Year 7 (11 & 12 year olds).