"Alas! Alas! Offspring of fruitful Tethys and of him who with his sleepless current encircles the whole earth, children of your father Oceanus, behold, see with what fetters, upon the summit crag of this ravine, I am to hold my unenviable watch." — Aeschylus, Promethus Bound
Prometheus steals the sacred fire of Olympia, the knowledge of the gods, and shares it with mortal men: the advent of human civilization. To punish him for his transgression, Zeus binds him to a rock and condemns him to a gruesome and merciless fate: every day, an eagle devours his liver (thought to be the seat of human emotions), which grows back each night so that his suffering repeats daily.
The Prometheus myth, endlessly evocative, has seen musical adaptations in every era: while Beethoven (in the only ballet he ever wrote) sees in it the torment of the artist, gnawed by doubt and ceaselessly recreating his own universe, Scriabin molds it into a symphonic poem with accompanying lightshow a century later. More recently, contemporary composer Brett Dean recasts the role of the superhero facing down the whole world in Dramatis Personae. Under the baton of Andris Nelsons, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra joins Håkan Hardenberger on the trumpet for Dean's work and Pierre-Laurent Aimard on the piano in Scriabin.
Works by Beethoven, Liszt, Scriabin and Nono