On January 2, three performers in Chamber Music Hawaii’s Mo’olelo o ke Koa (The Soldier’s Tale) appeared on Hawaii News Now’s Sunrise show. The actors and musician performed excerpts from Stravinsky’s work, showcasing the original Hawaiian translation created specifically for this production. The interview portion with Howard Dicus featured Todd Farley, Director of Mo’olelo o ke Koa, and James F. Moffitt, clarinetist and CMH Board President.
“There is a special theatrical delight and wonder that takes place when the worlds of music, word, and movement meet,” says Todd Farley.“Similar to when world cultures share story together, the result is a spectacular evening sure to enthrall young and old alike.”
L’Histoire du Soldat tells the story of a soldier who—while on his way home from the war—encounters the devil and is presented with an appealing deal: to exchange his fiddle for a magic book that will grant him everything he ever wanted. The original French text is by Swiss writer C.F. Ramuz and based on the folk tale, The Runaway Soldier and the Devil. Igor Stravinsky, a 20th-century Russian composer, scored the piece for a septet of violin, double bass, clarinet, bassoon, cornet/trumpet, trombone, and percussion. The work also calls for three main actors (soldier, devil, narrator), a dancer (princess), and additional ensemble dancers.
This co-production between CMH and UH represents the first Hawaiian translation of L’Histoire du Soldat. While it closely follows Ramuz’s libretto, the new version is set in the Big Island and the soldier, Koa, is Hawaiian. The plot revolves around Koa’s struggle with the lure of colonialism and the seduction of materialism that came with it. Farley explains, “Mo’olelo o ke Koa tells a story as old as time itself, true to the first fallen paradise, to post-war Europe and post-colonial Hawaii—we had peace, then enters the Devil. It is fitting that the story of human struggle is shared in a collaborative work between art forms and cultures—between mimes, actors, composers, and musicians; between Hawaiians, Asians, and Europeans.”