(Credit: Bleddyn Butcher)


Nick Cave and Nicholas Lens collaborate on a new "lockdown opera"


The acclaimed Aussie rocker Nick Cave and Belgian composer Nicholas Lens have teamed up to release their “lockdown opera” L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S. and, while 2020 would suggest that there isn’t much hope left in the world, at least we can always be assured that Nick Cave is still making art for all of us to enjoy.

Lens gained notoriety for his iconic 2012 opera Slow Man and quickly became a sensation among musical circles. The composer started work on the project after lockdown rendered him not only bound to his abode but without much work to be getting on with.

He turned his attention toward the city and began exploring Brussels by bike. While doing so, he found an eerie stillness that captivated and transported him. Arrested by the deathly quiet, he was reminded of his recent visit to Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture, the home of some of Japan’s most beautiful and holy temples.

Lens explained in a press release: “The initial idea for L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S was born in the natural silence that rises from the rainy and vivid green forest that surrounds these 13th-century temples. And because my memory works in musical phrases, writing L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S has become my method of remembering the peace I found while visiting Japan as well.”

Lens then recruited the talent of Nick Cave to help with the lyrics for his compositions having previously worked together on the 2014 opera Shell Shock. “I wanted to work with someone who was fresh to the field of opera; someone who was most believable and authentic in the way they would use words. Nick was obviously that person,” Lens added.

Cave explained of their working relationship: “Nicholas called me during lockdown and asked if I would write 12 litanies. I happily agreed. The first thing I did after I put down the phone was search ‘What is a litany?’ I learned that a litany was a series of religious petitions, and realised I had been writing litanies all my life.” Cave went on to contribute a dozen pieces which he describes as “petitions to a divine maker demanding some sort of cosmic acknowledgement”.

“In the end, all of this was recorded in one room, so it literally is chamber music!,” Lens concluded. L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S will be released via Deutsche Grammphon on December 4th.