The Walk from the Garden is listed on the Directory with both Jonathan Dove and the Salisbury International Arts Festival.
Jonathan Dove describes his work as a 'church opera'. It combines the biblical story of Adam and Eve with Milton’s Paradise Lost to create a meditation on ecological apocalypse.
Dove and his librettist Alasdair Middleton come at the theme of climate change obliquely. The action slots into the interstices of the closing lines of Paradise Lost, with Adam and Eve expelled from the Garden but yet to make their solitary way into the world.
From David Hongmann's review in the Financial Times:
'The set placed a door at the top of a set of steps, surmounted by an illuminated cinema exit sign, reversed. At the foot of the steps old fridges were scattered like boulders of ice. Behind the door, in Eden, assembled a choir, the voice of God. With an opening blare of organ and a pounding of kettledrums, they sang Milton’s version of the expulsion, all thorns and thistles and dust, like a mass plunging straight into the dies irae.
The work grew out of Dove’s trip to Greenland with Cape Farewell.
Adam and Eve, in the form of the tenor Nicholas Sharratt and the soprano Anna Dennis, appeared abruptly through the door, blindfolded, carrying rucksacks but dressed only in underwear and the indignity of socks. Their opening lament was unaccompanied. Thereafter they were accompanied by the strings of the Dante Quartet, a contrast with the chorus’s authoritarian wall of sound that made for intimate drama.
The loving fallen pair were sympathetic, reproaching themselves rather than each other.
In the central scene, to a string pulse, the couple looked back on their time in Paradise, their words recalling the Song of Songs. They chased each other between the fridges; the words shifted scale, from chiming planets to the ear of a field mouse, as the music mounted, Glass-y and kinetic. 'We messed it up,' sang Eve suddenly, bathetically. 'We messed it all up,' concurred Adam.
They huddled in the doorway like rough sleepers; squinted through the crack, pressed their ears to the door listening for God walking in the Garden. When bees danced, the strings buzzed and bumbled. As a litany of species ran to extinction, Adam wrote their names in ash and Eve cut them into her flesh with a tiny pair of scissors. The strings played funereal, descending sequences of holy minimalism.
The choir returned for Milton’s closing lines. Sharratt and Dennis walked slowly down the nave, into spotlights that cast long processing shadows, and out through the west doors into fading twilight. The choir streamed out through Eden’s gate and down the steps, carrying candles illuminating stern faces, as of angels barring any return. One by one, they blew them out, smoke rising like incense, the exit sign was switched off, and all was darkness.
Review in the Telegraph.