The Deus Ex Machina Cycle
Opera in Two Acts
Libretto by Elodie Lauten with lyrics by: Melody Sumner Carnahan, Steven Hall, Carl Karas, Rilke, Verlaine, Pascal, and the composer.
Composed: 1995-97

Commission and Workshop production, Soho Baroque Opera,1996
Premiere (Part I): Interpretations Series at Merkin Hall, 1997
Premiere (Part II): WNYC Live at Merkin Hall, 1998
Double CD set, 4-Tay, 1999 (Acknowledgement: Interpretations, World Music Institute, WNYC)

Languages: English, French, Italian, German, Latin

The cycle is a collective consciousness opera about how human beings have the ability to progress through the experience of painful emotions to eventually transcend them and reach the sacred realm of the spirit and finds happiness and peace there. The subtitle of Act I is Agartha or the Realm of Emotion and Experience. Agartha, mythical kingdom of the gods, is a secret city symbolizing our innermost feelings. The protagonist of the cycle is the collective soul. The Living Temple, is about loneliness, and longing, in a primitive language of sounds referring to the subconscious Answer is about passion, and the mental confusion that often accompanies strong feelings; Elegy is about the experience of loss through death, as expressed by Rilke, in the original German; Verlaine Variations is about melancholy, the romantic-era emotion of choice, as expressed in Clair de Lune by Paul Verlaine, in the original French. The reason for the use of foreign languages or broken English in this first section is because the emotions come from deep impulses, not having fully risen to consciousness. A flute interlude leads to a dramatic progression to Fear, followed by Death as a Shadow, and Duel about self-destructive impulses, with the highly emotional viola d'amore and cello duet in between. Act I ends with The Alchemist who hopes to transform the ordinary lead into gold, which is really a metaphor for the ascension of the soul towards higher realms. In Act II, subtitled Akasha or the Realm of the Unknowable, Akasha meaning the spirit element beyond water, earth, fire and air, the soul has gone beyond the material world, and the general mood is brighter. The harpsichord prelude is a déjà vu of a different time. The Architect expresses oneness, the feeling of belonging with the world, embracing it. Buddha in the Sunlight is about the state of grace and how simple things can be experienced as their everlasting essence. The Empress is about fulfillment in mutual acceptance. The Fold, a musical adaptation of the Deleuze theory, expresses awakening. The Two Infinites, adapted from Pascal, is about inspiration, as we realize how we are connected to the universe. The Exotic World of Speed and Beauty is a celebration of weightlessness, a feeling of blissful levitation.

Notes & Libretto


"Elodie Lauten’s major opus, strikingly scored for Baroque ensemble with harpsichord, with the text chanted in a style reminiscent not of minimalism but of an exotic fusion of Stravinskian chinoiserie and the 17th cantata: very beautiful."... THE VILLAGE VOICE

"A grand work that we are likely to return to again and again… timelessly beautiful… Unquestionably Lauten’s own is this fascinating combination of baroque and earlier musics with contemporary concerns." 21ST CENTURY MUSIC

"A spiritual complexity that is no stranger to the best works of the classical chamber music tradition." CHAMBER MUSIC AMERICA

"Wonderfully exciting music." OPZIJ (Netherlands)

"This work merits a major recording as soon as possible." THE SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER

"A marvelous piece of music… performed on this CD with admirable exactitude and with the immediacy of a live recording….Although startlingly new at times I very soon recognized the rightness, the fitness of The Deus Ex Machina Cycle. I doubt that I will be alone in this recognition.…Elodie Lauten is set to become a fixture of future musical lexicons." NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL (England)

Contact Elodie Lauten

Contact her representative: Jeffrey James

Photos: Milton Fletcher, 2007
Site design copyright Elodie Lauten 2007