"A star navigator's doesn't need a map on paper!
I am a star navigator!"
I have that song so firmly wedged in my mind, having attended the previews over 2 nights. The promised 45min performance was actually 25min of music, after which Tim, the orchestrator, the librettist, the cast and producers held a Q&A session with the audience.
For those who don't know, Star Navigator is about Tupaia, a Tahitian priest and artist, whom from childhood, had been taught to navigate by the stars, observing the patterns of birds and listening to the sea. His genius is completely lost on the great Captain Cook, on whose ship he sails.
Tim describes the captain as "very much like a modern man". He worshipped science, in the absence of spirituality. He hadn't allowed a chaplain on board, so for Joseph Banks to have brought in the likes of Tupaia was simply the last straw. Banks had already angered the captain, buying his way onto the voyage, invading Cook's space, stringing up a hammock in the sacred cabin.
After a very tribal incantation from Tupaia, Cook and Banks were into it, egos clashing like cymbals. I wanted to laugh out at their rhetoric. Tim had mentioned beforehand how men travelling long journeys together, in a confined space, be it a ship or a tour bus makes for theatrics!
I was taken thru almost every emotion, during those 25min. At one stage, I found myself about to cry. I glanced around and saw that the guy behind me already was.
The role of Purea, soprano, represents the Tahiti that Tupaia left behind. I'm not sure if she wasn't also supposed to be his love, the mother of his son. They sang a beautiful love duet and I just had to say, stuff the eyeshaddow, it was history! I was not alone.
That particular song was sort of a bonus track. At the end of each Q&A, the director asked the audience if they'd like to hear another song (yeah!) and Tim would get behind the keyboard, without the chamber orchestra. On Saturday night, that song was between Tupaia and the captain, how each had some respect for the other and wished they could somehow bridge the gap. Once again, I was grateful for having grabbed a bar napkin before the show.
I am very excited about how this piece is coming together. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to make the mainstage before 2018. I hate waiting, killing time, restless, awkward and all that jazz, but I have a feeling it is going to be worth it.