The Story of B is an evening-length song-cycle of music by Eve Beglarian and Phil Kline, setting the notoriously erotic Chansons de Bilitis of fin-de-siecle French writer Pierre Louÿs. That work, purporting to be translations of verses by an ancient Greek contemporary of Sappho, gave the 1950’s lesbian activist group, The Daughters of Bilitis, their name. But in fact the texts are neither authentically ancient nor authentically lesbian, having been written by Louÿs himself: not translation at all, but wholesale invention. Spurious though they may be, they are nonetheless captivating. Debussy set three of them for voice and piano, and for six others he wrote music to accompany recitation of the poems.

Despite its notoriety in the context of Victorian mores, the narrative thrust of Louÿs poem is rather conventional: girl cavorts with her playmates, girl loses virginity to flute-playing shepherd boy, girl journeys to Lesbos and meets the love of her life, girl loses love of her life, girl journeys to Cyprus and becomes courtesan, girl dies alone and sad. By re-imagining this narrative from both male and female, straight and queer perspectives simultaneously, the story becomes a good deal more complex and interesting: rather than merely a frame for soft-core titillation, the piece becomes an authentic exploration of desire, love, and loneliness.

Below you will find a selection of songs from The Story of B. They were written for a series of performances at the Flynn Center (Burlington, VT), DiverseWorks (Houston, TX), and Joe's Pub (New York City) with an ensemble of four performers, featuring both composers alternating singing the role of the protagonist Bilitis. The songs can be arranged for a wide range of ensembles; please contact me if you would like to perform any of them.

10 Yesterday (Will Go On) mp3 pdf
13 Everything mp3 pdf
14 Solitude mp3 pdf
22 Morning Rain mp3 pdf

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