For Plath no source of imagery was off-limits, and in “Lady Lazarus,” her terrifying and disturbing account of her “rising again” from successive suicide attempts, she employs Holocaust imagery to express the her suffering and anger, putting herself in the place of a Jewish victim.
An octatonic scale lends an angular intensity to the melodic and harmonic language of this extremely intense setting. Vibrantly rhythmic parts for piano and bass drum complete the conjuring of the ferocious “Lady Lazarus,” whose essence is distilled in the poems’ final lines:
Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.
Commissioned by the Los Angeles Master Chorale
Premiere: June 2, 2013, Grant Gershon, conducting