The Cry of the Double Bass ◼︎

The Cry of the Double Bass is a chamber opera about the double bass, with music by Sebastiano Dessanay and libretto by writer and theatre director Mike Carter.

It tells the story of an unnamed artist, charting his journey from childhood to being an accomplished musician. The work explores his changing relationship to music and the double bass, as he battles to fulfil his soul’s desire. Richly symbolic and told as a mythic ‘folk tale’, it blends comedy and pathos, as it grapples with challenges many artists will know only too well.

Watch ◼︎

The Cry of the Double Bass
A chamber opera by Sebastiano Dessanay, Trailer 2017

The Cry of the Double Bass
Act 3, Scene 1. Tête à Tête Festival, London, August 2017

Listen ◼︎

The Opera ◼︎

The Cry of the Double Bass is the first original opera which engages with themes rarely seen in an operatic context. Music and musical experience become primary topics; a performer and his historically neglected instrument the double bass are the protagonists around whom the plot evolves; creativity, the artist’s inner and spiritual search, and the way society perceives musicians are also themes of paramount importance.

The work holds a universal message, which is across-the board and goes beyond the world of artists, and particularly important for young audiences: take decisions following your own heart. Its communication is effective on many levels with all types of audiences.

The Cry of the Double Bass is the creative result of Sebastiano Dessanay’s experience over many years as a double bassist as well as a composer. In 2014 Sebastiano was awarded a Ph.D. at Birmingham Conservatoire (UK). He explored through musical composition the complex relationships between the double bassist and their instrument. The main essence of Sebastiano’s Ph.D. project was the creative process that led to the composition of a substantial music piece where the double bass has a prominent role.

Cast ◼︎

Boy (Acts 1,2 & 3)

Teacher (Act 1)
Girlfriend (Act 2)
Lover (Act 3)

Mother (Acts 1,2 & 3)
Landlady (Act 3)

Priest (Act 1)
Young Man (Acts 2&3)

Grandfather (Acts 1&2)
Professor (Act 3)
Old Man (Act 3)

Father (Acts 1,2&3)
Doctor (Acts 1&3)
Boss (Act 3)

Big C (Acts 1&3)
Waiter (Act 2)

Instrumentation ◼︎

  • 1 Flute (doubling Piccolo)
  • 1 Clarinet in Bb (doubling Bass clarinet)
  • 1 Horn in F
  • 1 Tuba
  • Timpani
  • Percussion (2 players)
  • Piano, Toy piano
  • Pre-recorded tape parts
  • 1 Violin
  • 1 Viola (+ 1 extra in Act 3)
  • 1 Cello (+ 2 extras in Act 3)
  • 1 Double bass (+ 3 extras in Act 3)