July 14, 2015

1,000,001 CDs 4: Thoth ~ The Herma: Act One

Thoth ~ The Herma: Act One
photo by Romaine Photography 
CD detail  
detail photo by Styrous®


From the 70's to the '90's, I would use one of the Mission Street BART stations in San Francisco. In the cavernous underground entrances, street musicians would perform. This is where I first encountered Thoth. Each encounter was an amazing experience; he would speak, sing, play the violin and with bells around his ankles, dance complex rhythms; all at the same time. He sang in a language he created, the language of the Festad, a mythical people and land he also created and was the subject of his "Solopera", The Herma, a one-man opera. And he sang all the roles including the female ones. His magnificent voice ranged from a brazen, guttural baritone to a dazzling countertenor. It was a mind blower, to be sure. 


Thoth ~ The Herma: Act One
photo by Styrous®

The first time I saw him, I bought this CD album, The Herma; it is amazing and I was hooked. I subsequently bought several of his other albums but the Herma is my love; perhaps that is because it was my first album by him. Your first love is always the one you remember.   


 
Thoth ~ The Herma: Act One
back cover photo by Romaine Photography
photo of CD by Styrous®


Thoth ~ The Herma: Act One
back cover photo by Romaine Photography
photo of CD by Styrous®





And, of course, this album has a cut that is my favorite. It is Homio from Scene 4. At not even 2 minutes, it is one of the most striking pieces of music I have ever heard. It is a lilting but robust waltz with violin, bells and Thoth vocals ranging up, down, over and everywhere in every vocal range imaginable from all the various roles. He performs an extended version of the song on YouTube (link to aria on YouTube).




Thoth ~ The Herma: Act One
back cover detail
photo by Styrous®
 







Stephen Kaufman chose the name of Thoth, an ancient Egyptian deity because he perceived Egypt to historically be "the center for mixed races". Thoth began "prayforming" this one man opera in San Francisco, and then New York. Thoth was the subject of the Academy Award winning documentary Thoth. Kaufman holds a degree in comparative literature from San Francisco State University.  





The Herma: Act One

The Herma: Act One is based upon metaphorical legends from the mythological world of the Festad - a land about which Thoth has been writing since he was a child.    

Thoth ~ The Herma: Act One
back cover detail
photo by Styrous®


Thoth ~ The Herma: Act One
The Sacred Luva
CD booklet cover
photo by Styrous®





The CD is accompanied by a libretto with the complete history and a map of the fabled land Thoth has created.  

libretto

(click on any image for slideshow)
































Track listing:
   
1. Anya - 6:11
2. Recit - 1:40
3. Nular-in - 3:13
4. Recit - 1:46
5. Festad - 5:34
6. Recit - 1:22
7. Balo - 3:27
8. Recit - 0:47
9. Homio - 1:48
10. Recit - 0:47
11. An - 3:16
12. Recit - 0:28
13. O Fyuin Du - 4:53
14. Recit - 2:09
15. Veni So Felato - 5:34
16. Recit - 1:25
17. Interlude - 2:31
18. Recit - 0:41
19. Une Vela - 3:17
20. Recit - 0:35
21. Mama - 3:58
23. Hunana - 3:23
24. Recit - 1:37
25. Hu - 3:16   
26. Recit - 0:32
27. Ilmir Dance - 2:15

Label: Not On Label (Thoth Self-released) ‎– CD 005
Format: CD
Country: US
Released: 1999   
Genre: Classical, Folk, World, & Country              
Style: Folk, Spoken Word


Recorded and mixed by David Bell at Bellboy Recording, Richmond, CA

The album photograph was by Romaine Photography which was a popular photography studio dating back to the 1940s. It was run by Karl and Emilie Romaine. All performance talent went to them for publicity stills.  


Thoth ~ The Herma: Act One
back cover detail
photo by Styrous®






Thoth ~ The Herma: Act One
back cover detail
photo by Styrous®





Thoth on the Net: 
    
Thoth website         
Thoth performing on YouTube
Thoth Wandrly Magazine interview    
Thoth Wandrly Magazine interview        
LA Times article   
Metroactive article     
Newsreview article
Romain Photography images on the Net                 







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