A New Psychedelic Musical, LSD: The Opera
Opera is a powerful art form, and whilst it may have been traditionally used to tell old tales, it is now being used to tell the story of LSD.
For many who have tried psychedelic drugs, trying to describe the experience to someone who hasn’t is monumentally difficult. No matter how hard you try, human language struggles to encapsulate it in mere descriptive words. Having time, perception, and consciousness distorted in such a way is not something words can do justice.
So what about music then? Music, at its essence, can be very trippy, ethereal, and insightful – reverberating with your very soul. It is one of the reasons music is such a perfect accompaniment to tripping. A new musical, ‘LSD: The Opera’ goes some way to capture this, with its complexity, microtones, and sometimes jarring yet rhythmic sounds. It is very easy to lose yourself in it.
Yet, whilst this new musical may have your reminiscing about past trips, or catching you up in its hypnotic melodies, trying to explain or simulate the sensation of a hallucination is not its aim. Instead, LSD: The Opera’s true intention is to tell the turbulent history of LSD, right from its accidental discovery, to what we presume will be current day. You see, it is hard for us to say, as the opera is still being written. What has already been created and rehearsed includes the history of Albert Hoffman, Aldous Huxley’s first mescaline trip, and the secret research the CIA performed with LSD.
The opera is being composed by Anne LeBaron, an already accomplished and renowned composer. When talking about the beginning of the opera, she describes how it all starts with Albert Hoffman:
“When [Hoffman] accidentally absorbed some of the LSD through his fingertips and got a buzz, he decided to dose himself a little bit, and became the first person to take a trip. He had no idea what dose to take. Back in 1943, there was a shortage of cars in Switzerland, so he rode his bike home, and he was tripping as he rode home. And when he finally crashed into his house, he wrote in his journal that he felt as though he was not moving at all. He was desperate for an antidote to the drug because he had overdosed himself, so he cried out for milk, and his neighbour brought him milk. But she appeared to him as a hideous witch in a mask. All that is in the opera.”
It all sounds like it is shaping up to be a very interesting piece. Whilst opera may not seem like something that would pair with psychedelics, we would argue differently. Opera is an art form, and one that can be truly mesmerising in both message and experience. For a composer who is determined to let the world know that LSD can be used for balance, to show us all the good and bad within ourselves, there could be no better outlet.