Issuu on Google+

opera21

0 1 0 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 0 1 0 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 10 1 0 1 00 1 0 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 0 1 1 0 11 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 0 1 1 0 0 1 00 0 1 1 0 0 0 00 0 1 1 0 0 0 00 0 1 1 0 0 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 1 10 1 1 0 1 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 S e p t e m b e r 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 1 1 0 0 10 0 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 1 1 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 2 0 1 30 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 1 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 0 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 0 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 1 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 1 10 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 0 1 1 1 0 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 0 1 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 0 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 0 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 10 0 1 1 0 0 1 10 0 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 0 1 1 1 0 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 0 0 0 1 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 0 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 0 1 1 0 0 0 10 0 1 1 0 1 1 00 0 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 1 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 0 1 0 1 1 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 0 1 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 1 1 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 1 1 10 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 1 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 1 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 0 1 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 1 1 0 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 1 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 0 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 0 1 1 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 0 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 0 1 1 0 0 0 10 0 1 1 0 1 1 10 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 00 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 0 0 0 1 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 0 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 0 1 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 0 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 00 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 00 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 0 0 1 1 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 0 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 1 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 1 0 0 10 0 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 10 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 1 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 0 1 0 1 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 0 00 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 1 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 0 0 1 1 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 00 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 1 1 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 1 0 1 1 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 0 0 0 0 1 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 1 00 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 1 0 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 00 1 1 0 0 1 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 0 0 1 10 1 1 0 1 0 0 00 0 1 0 0 0 0 00 1 1 0 1 1 1 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 10 1 1 1 0 1 0 00 1 1 1 0 0 1 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 1 1 0 0 1 1 10 1 1 0 0 1 0 10 1 1 0 1 1 1 1


Opera21            

magazine  

    Collaborative,  submission  based  magazine   for  the  21st  Century  Opera  Enthusiast   Editor-­in-­chief  Jennifer  Choi   operaswag.wordpress.com   Editor  Kim  Feltkamp   kimberlyfeltkamp.com   Contact  Opera21   opera21.tumblr.com   Email:  opera21mag@gmail.com   Additional  editorial  staff  for  this  issue:   Holly  Nicholas   tornamiadir.tumblr.com   Kevin  Ng   nonpiudifiori.wordpress.com

The numbers on the front cover of this issue are the binary code translations of part of the Two Boys synopsis. Binary code is used in computing processes to encode data. The colorful web is a visual representation of routing paths used on the Internet. All  rights  reserved.    Reproduction  in  whole  or  part  is  prohibited  without  written  permission.  The   opinions  expressed  in  Opera21  do  not  necessarily  reflect  those  of  the  editor  or  publisher.


O21 Table of Contents                Volume

3  

1 No. 10

Garden of Martyrs Premiere: From a Singer’s Point of View Kari Lyon

7

Two Boys: Interview with Alice Coote Jennifer Choi

13

Death and the Powers Ilana Walder-Biesanz

17

The theme for the upcoming issue is Giuseppe Verdi. The deadline is October 18th. Guidelines for submissions can be found on our website. We welcome new writers!

Harmonizing a Harlot: Interview with composer Iain Bell Holly Nicholas

23

Announcement

The Gospel According to the Others

31 Come Scoglio* Parts 12 & 13 Kimberly Feltkamp

Price Walden

*Featured Novella, in 27

The New Composer Griffin Candey

parts


Garden of Martyrs Premiere: From a Singer’s Point of View Kari Lyon I’m standing ten feet away from Amy Johnson as she places her baby in her husband’s arms, the last time he will hold his son. She doesn’t make a sound but she’s utterly captivating, and I have to force myself to look away, knowing that I have about four minutes to blink back tears and sing over a thirty strong chorus. We’re in rehearsal for The Garden of Martyrs, which premieres at The Academy of Music in Northampton on September 20 2013. The historic theatre is significant because it stands in the centre of the town where in June 1806, the population of 2,500 swelled to 15,000 as people gathered for the hanging of Dominic Daley and James Halligan. On March 18 1984, the two were formally exonerated of the murder charge that was

called into question even in the last days before their execution. The opera, by local team Eric Sawyer and Harley Erdman, tells the story of those last three days. They felt strongly that the Massachusetts audience should be first to see their history brought to the stage, and so this premiere is set to be a splendid event for the region. The production may have kept its local ties, but the talent assembled here is world class. It’s a testament to the piece that the premiere cast is led by internationally noted singers William Hite and Amy Johnson, with Metropolitan Opera veteran Vernon Hartman both performing and directing. In the pit, Kevin Rhodes brings the expertise of decades leading the finest orchestras and opera houses in Europe. Rounding out the principals are

3


Keith Phares, Alan Schneider, Chrystal E. Williams, and Marjorie Melnick. My own casting came about serendipitously. Vernon Hartman walked in on a voice lesson and at the end of the aria simply said, “Well, that’s Bridie.” He soon brought me up to speed, providing a copy of the book on which the opera is based and some clips of a workshop. I loved the story and once Eric sent me the pages of Bridie’s Act II aria, I knew it was something really special. I had to have this part. An audition was arranged and a day before returning to Australia, I got it. I spent the twenty-eight hour journey home in elated disbelief, and being in rehearsal right now, I have to say I feel about the same. It’s an incredible privilege to be part of a world premiere. But even more so to be part of this premiere: an opera with stunning music, poignant themes, and wonderful roles featuring some of the finest artists in the country. There’s a palpable frisson each time we enter the rehearsal space. Eric and Harley’s excitement as they watch their years of work coming to life is contagious, and Kevin set the bar at total commitment on day one, declaring with characteristic gusto, “If you want to save go to a bank!” For an emerging singer from a small city in Western Australia, working alongside artists of this calibre is a dream. I love sitting in rehearsals as Bill draws out the nuances of Cheverus’ struggles, Keith and Alan revel in gallows humor, and Amy’s voice soars with breathtaking power. In this production, there have been extraordinary moments every day. At the heart of all of these, there’s a sense of responsibility in telling the story of real people, set so artfully in Harley’s libretto and

Eric’s music. The opera is a challenge musically and vocally, but an accomplished production team and our incomparable rehearsal pianist, Jerry Noble, make light work of it. We also have the luxury of being able to consult directly with the composer and librettist. The cast and creative team have an easy rapport. It’s important for a piece like this, because shifting timelines and long scenes require clarity, and the beauty of the story lies in the space between the characters. The central figure, Bill Hite’s Father Cheverus, has a complex past which unravels as he reluctantly ministers to the prisoners, and in doing so begins to come to terms with his own secrets, and rediscover his purpose. It is also through witnessing Daley and Halligan’s

4


the old world of Ireland to see Halligan’s charm in action. Each time she appears, Bridie asks Halligan to “Remember us: this place, this moment.” Her words underscore the need for this story to be heard, and to remember not only these two men but also how it was that they came to be hanged for a crime they had not committed. Alongside the timeless love and mortality, the themes of misplaced justice and discrimination are so relevant today, and are sure to resonate with a modern audience. One thing that is common to all of my favourite contemporary operas, from Floyd’s Susannah to Adamo’s Little Women and Heggie’s Moby Dick, is a balance between beautiful melodic lines and the unexpected. It’s important to me as an audience member to come away remembering moments of the story simply through the music, and The Garden of Martyrs score delivers. Around dramatic arias and powerful ensemble scenes, Eric Sawyer has threaded this piece with tunes reminiscent of old Ireland, richly layered with quirky rhythms and evocative orchestration. There are also moments for the chorus to shine, not least in their subtly textured final hymn. We have stars enough in the cast, but the star of this show is the score. It’s an opera that I believe will find its way into the mainstream repertoire before too long, with arias almost certain to become part of the standard catalogue. I look forward to singing it, hearing it, and watching it for years to come. I hope I’ll be there when The Garden of Martyrs comes to the world’s major stages, but whether or not that happens, I will have been the first to tell Bridie’s story and I’m grateful to have the honor.

relationships that Cheverus, and in turn the audience, comes to understand the men as more than convicted murderers. Dominic Daley is the Catholic family man who lives for his wife, and Amy’s Finola Daley is heartrending as she fights for her husband’s life and becomes preoccupied with “the things a widow knows”, realizing that in a matter of hours she too will be a widow with a tiny son to raise. Cast as Bridie Maguire, I play the lost love of the “rogue Halligan”. The role is a gift. Through dreams and memories their story offers some light moments and creates an image of the man Halligan wanted to be. Playing Bridie not only draws on my opera training but tests the memory of those long-ago ballet lessons, with an extended dance scene inviting the audience back into

5


The Garden of Martyrs premiered at the Academy of Music, Northampton MA, on September 20 2013, directed by Vernon Hartman and conducted by Kevin Rhodes. Father Cheverus: William Hite Finola Daley: Amy Johnson Website: gardenofmartyrsopera.com Attorney General Sullivan: Vernon Hartman Press Contact: Dominic Daley: Alan Schneider Karen at gardenofmartyrs@gmail.com James Halligan: Keith Phares Bridie: Kari Lyon Photographs by Jon Crispin Yvette: Chrystal E. Williams Widow Clark: Marjorie Melnick Springfield Symphony Orchestra Soprano Kari Lyon trained in Australia and London before completing the Young Artist program at the Opera Studio Melbourne. Recent performances have included Aspasia, Mitridate in Melbourne and Brilliant Baroque with the Melbourne Musicians Orchestra. www.karilyon.com.au

6


Two Boys: Interview with Alice Coote Jennifer Choi Two Boys is an opera based loosely on a criminal case that happened in England in the early 2000’s. Coote plays detective Anne Strawson, who investigates a case where a teenage boy stabs another teenage boy. This will be Coote’s first time tackling a modern opera. She has never felt the inclination to perform in a newly written opera, but she immediately responded to Two Boys because of its subject material. “The reason why I felt like I connected, that I could sing this, is because it’s about the Internet, and there isn’t any subject bigger on any level in all culture, in all arts, than the Internet […] It was pretty much the only thing that I really felt that I wanted to sing about in modern life, more than anything, because love, sex, death, everything else has been sung about before, but the Internet hasn’t.” Her attraction to the role was borne more out of her understanding of the inextricable role that the Internet plays in modern life, not necessarily her love for it. She does not have a website, which she knows annoys her fans. One of the biggest fan questions we received before this interview was whether or not she would ever get a website, to which she apologetically shouted “I’m sorry everyone! I know…” She trailed off into a moment of contemplative silence before stating, “I just hate singers’ websites. I really loathe them. I think they’re naff. The self-promotion – the glossy version of the singer, the untruthful version of the singer, the singer as product, singer who is more important as a star, promoting this idea of a self-star, which is all about them and not about the music.” Not all hope is lost yet, for her fans, at least. As she takes a sip of her iced tea, she seems to be commanding herself to take the plunge as she declares, more to herself than to me, “Age 45. It’s ridiculous. Get a website!”

Hailed for her mastery of recital performances as well as her operatic roles, and with an extensive repertoire that ranges from Handel to Mahler, Alice Coote is easily soaring at the prime of her career. She will be singing the lead role in Nico Muhly’s opera, Two Boys, which will have its American debut at the Metropolitan Opera next month. This past summer, I had a chance to sit down with Coote in New York City while she was in town for the Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival. We chatted about everything from Two Boys to being Fischer-Dieskau fans while being waited on by an overly eager waitress. After being asked for the fifth time if we needed our glasses refilled, Coote laughed in amazement. “She’s the most attentive waitress we’ve ever had in our lives! And when we’re trying to do an interview.”

7


“But I don’t want to do it in a way that every other singer does it, and I don’t know how I would do it. I’ll have to post what I’m singing, where I’m singing, and when I’m singing, but I don’t want a little smiling picture of me with a few dates. I can’t fight against the Internet. None of us can, but I’m not in love with it and the influence that it has on our lives. It’s going to be a really interesting journey doing this piece. My god.” Perhaps her disinclination towards the Internet makes her the perfect choice for Anne Strawson. In the opera, the two boys involved in the stabbing meet in an online chat room; the detective learns about the Internet and its grim capabilities while investigating the case. “I think I’m the right person to sing this role because I’m still a bit innocent…a bit,” Coote says with a smile. “On a lot of levels, it’s absolutely the antithesis of who I feel I am, the sort of life I want to lead, and the way I grew up, which was a sheltered, quiet existence in a little country village in the middle of England. There was no such thing as the Internet. Nobody had a computer. There was the radio, and there was the TV. I didn’t have a wider peer group that I felt was judging me and I had to prove myself to them. God knows how people grow up like that now because I feel it in my 40s and I can’t really cope with it. I go on Facebook and everybody seems to try to seem incredibly successful in everything they do and god knows what they have to announce, and I don’t like it.” At this point, she stops for a second before laughing and apologizing. “Oh dear, sorry, you’re running a website!” She then clarifies, “What I hate about the Internet is the social part of it. I don’t hate the information part of it. I think the information part of it is incredible! When I wake up in the middle of the night, and I think of something, I can look it up and find out what it is. I can learn something in the middle of the night, on my iPad, on my phone, or I can download

music. I think that is wonderful and I absolutely love it. But it’s the social part of the Internet that I think is a bad influence on our lives.” Asked if the effects of the Internet insert themselves into the themes in the opera, she says, “It’s heightening the usual tragedies or joys of love and death that are in operas. It’s heightening them to the universal because that’s what the Internet does, and that’s what the Internet has done to our lives. On our own, we can interact with the world as a whole; as an individual, we can access the world, and we can be hurt by it or find love through it. But it’s not actual, immediate love – it’s the perverse and heightened version of the world. So the tragedies that happen in this piece are exactly the same as any other tragedy because it’s about somebody wanting connection.” “To me, the biggest theme of the piece, and what interested me most, was the idea of saying ‘I want to be known.’ At the end of the opera, the boys just want to be known – going onto the Internet and carving an identity, whether it’s real or not, and that’s the human need for contact. The fact is that deception is possible on the Internet – it’s not real. It’s also something that can become a huge social issue; it’s not just about the people involved, but it’s about the whole world because the whole world has allowed this to be happen by setting it up. Everybody is colored and touched by the tragedy because we’re all responsible for it. We’ve created this thing.” There is no doubt that the Internet has had a significant impact on the way audiences consume music, and according to Coote, it comes with both benefits and drawbacks. “The artist has had its day, the artist as a performer, as a creator, whatever cache you want to use. Even pop artists don’t get paid anymore. I’ve had concerts that I didn’t know were being recorded, and people have made CDs with them. We’ve lost all control. On the positive side, lots of people can have

8


access that they didn’t have before. But does that mean they’re not attending live performances, save for maybe once a year? What long-term effects does that have? Is it affecting the whole culture, with people having shorter attention spans? And for future generations, with people who are more suited to the Internet and are used to having fantastic websites, are they actually getting the really great artists? Have the artists been nurtured in a different way, and have they been chosen for the right reasons? The Internet has transformed what people are dealt. They are being fed what they’ve asked for instead of what they think they need. In terms of the depth of the culture – is it making us all shallow? I could talk about that forever.” “But I think the access is great. You can type in any aria and see everybody in the last 25 years who has sung it. I think that’s amazing. That doesn’t teach you how to sing, but it’s still amazing. If I'd had access to that while I was a student, it would have been amazing. This will be Coote’s first female role at the Met. Last season, she blew away critics and audiences alike with her stunning performance as Sesto in Handel’s Giulio Cesare. The New York Post stated, “Alice Coote struck sparks as her vengeful son, Sesto in this trouser role. Coote’s flinty mezzo and macho posing made some Met tenors seem positively girlish.” Coote says, however, that starting off with trouser roles at the Met was inevitable. “The beginning of my career, the debut, everything was always going to be pants role because that was what I was known for, what I have been known for, so they’re going to show me doing what is perceived to be me at my best. It isn’t necessarily true because I do sing female roles!” Although this may be her first female role at the Met, the character’s gender seems to be a moot point. “First female role – it’s shocking! But in concept, she’s not really feminine. It’s totally irrelevant. She’s more like a mind, an asexual figure. It’s quite

Alice Coote as Sesto in Handel’s Giulio Cesare Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

tragic that the only female role that I’m getting to do at the Met is one that is not very successful as a female in life. There is a really sweet scene in the opera where she’s with her mother, and the mother says to her, ‘If you’d lost the weight, if you’d tidied yourself a bit, if you looked a bit more interesting to men, then I’m sure you could find love. I’m sure you could find a man. But get on a bit, lose some weight.’ And my character says, ‘Shut up mother I’m not listening to you.’ So it’s evident that her life as a woman is not going well. As a sexual being, she seems quite unhappy. It’s quite depressing that that’s my first female role,” she laughs as she continues, “that I was the first choice for Peter Gelb to phone for that one. It’s a little bit worrying.” Her character is hard working, and it is her humanity that makes her relatable to the audience. However, ultimately, her character is the eyes and ears through which the story is

9


told. “The main part of Anne is the fact that she is listening. It’s what Bart Sher said, ‘You are basically a pair of ears through which the story is filtered. You are asking the questions, you are listening to the answers, you are trying to find out what the truth is. Whether you ever find the real truth, I don’t know.’ I think that’s the whole point of the piece. She’s just a walking pair of ears, but maybe women are more receptive, maybe women are better listeners. I think so at least.” I stopped to tell her that studies have shown women are better listeners and that is why women often make better leaders. Coote stopped, raised her hands, and exclaimed, “Yessss!” (Somebody needs to hurry up and write an opera about Hillary Clinton so Coote can play the lead). The Two Boys' libretto is in English, and “singing in English is really difficult because of the strange blending of the vowels and syllables, not necessarily pure vowels, and the consonants. You tend to chop up your sound much more, and you tend to sing how you would speak rather than relying on the technique and having that pure awareness of keeping the sound sustained. You need to be much more disciplined. But it’s also wonderful because you can get nuances into it that you can’t really in other languages. You can only do that in your own language.” The opera also comes with vocal challenges she’s never had to tackle before. “It is going to be hard to stay healthy because it’s very speaky; it’s not necessarily a lyrical role. A lot of what I’m doing is almost dialogue. It’s mostly in just one area of my voice, in the middle register. It’s very thick orchestration, and I’m right in the middle of that. I’m not singing anywhere near my usual high register. I’ll be repeatedly delving into that area and not necessarily going particularly high or particularly low while repeatedly being like a singing actor. It’s going to be challenging. I’ve never done anything like that before. I’m in new territory here, so I’ll have to see how it goes.”

However, the composer, Nico Muhly, will be around to be of service. “We’ve already met a few times. He met to ask me what I thought about singing the role and if there is any way he could improve it for me. We’ve talked about that a lot, and he’s rewritten quite a lot of it for my voice and for what I thought perhaps would be more effective. So there’s been some tweaking going on, and he’s going to be around during rehearsal, so it’s incredible. It’s a very unusual situation.” Having such ready access to the composer has its benefits, but it has also made her a bit apprehensive. “I just find it really unnerving and really bizarre. It’s actually scarier because he is going to be in the audience on opening night. Normally when you’re singing, whatever you’re singing, you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Am I getting this right?’ When I’m singing Mahler, I’m thinking, ‘Oh my god am I singing this right for Mahler? Am I doing what he would have wanted me to do?’ That’s always my intention, but I’m sort of free to make that choice in the moment and throw it out there. But this thing – Nico could be sitting there cringing and thinking, ‘What is she doing? She shouldn’t sing like that! I didn’t mean that. It should be nuanced differently. That note wasn’t slightly long enough.’ I’m afraid he’s going to stand up in the audience and shout “NOOOOOOO.” I really hope he doesn’t leap up and yell, ‘Get this woman off the stage!!’” Asked if her process for preparing a modern opera will be any different from her usual process, and she says, “I don’t think it’s going to be. Obviously there is a difference in the way you research. With older operas, you have recordings and you research composers. This opera is pretty much unknown as it was only done a few years ago, but I’m not really one for researching recordings of music anyway. I usually respond completely viscerally to what is being said in music. Number one the words, and then how the composer has decided the words, and how that

10


makes me know what they feel the words are trying to say. The words can be set in different ways in any opera or song. But I should respond viscerally and craft it into what the composer meant. I wish they were around so I could ask them in rehearsal.” Visceral seems to be the key term for putting together a character. Coote has been praised for being a transformative actor as well as a singer, and her trouser roles have left many young girls scratching their heads in confusion. “I don’t ever consciously construct a character. When I’m learning something, I immediately get flooded by the senses. My imagination starts to go pretty crazy and is pretty much thrown wide open to who this person could be. It’s all fairly obvious because of the situation they’re in, but there’s so many dimensions you could choose. I don’t make any intellectual decisions about my characters. I feel it in rehearsals, and I am just blotting paper, really. I soak up the messages, the subconscious messages that come to me. Sometimes, I physically find types for myself, particularly in boys or men. I’ll walk around during rehearsals because I

want to see what that person is like. Sometimes I look for it. Sometimes I’ll be sitting, like we are now, and I see someone outside and I think, ‘That is what that character is like. Once I have that in my mind, I add that on to me and I throw it into the reality of that character. It’s different every time, but it’s definitely not an intellectual closed box. It stays open, even when I’m performing.” The Internet can be a place of anonymity and deception. It provides a venue in which people can hide behind crafted masks, but according to Coote, that is not what her acting process is like, at least not anymore. “At the beginning of my career, I thought, ‘Ok I’m being a different person.’ I still do believe that I’m being a different person on stage, but more and more, I realize that they are versions of myself because you’ve only got yourself as reference, your own perception of the world as reference, your body and your heart and mind and your soul and your experiences for reference. In order to really communicate to people while on stage, in costume or whatever you’re doing, you have to speak from your

heart as the character. You can’t speak from someone else’s heart. It’s still the same Two Boys at the English National Opera. Photograph: Tristram Kenton

11


heart as the character. You can't speak from someone else's heart. It's still the same human truths you’re saying to them, just through another voice. It’s still you. It becomes a bit existential because I become the character, and they become me, and we become indistinguishable as a human being, and there’s a lot going on. But on another level, it’s also incredibly nice to escape your life, particularly when you’re playing a boy. I really do leave myself behind as much as I’m able to, which I’m not able to completely [at which point she laughs as she gestures binding her breasts], and I just love it and leap around. And I totally believe the world I’m in when I’m doing it. I’m singing in front of a thousand people, and none of it is real, but on some level, it’s totally real. So I am leaving my life behind. That’s the thing actors love doing, and I love doing it.” The process is no different when preparing for recitals and songs. “It’s the same. The character of the words, the character of the piece is what it is. I don’t ever consciously create the character. It creates me, infiltrates me, and then I reflect that out. It’s never conscious - it’s evident – the words, the message, the music. It doesn’t make a difference whether opera or song. Each song has a reality, like a miniature drama. If you’re doing it right, it is a miniature reality, and the composer has helped. The composers needed to say something. Maybe they wrote those words, or found those words, and wanted to write something because of the words written. Or maybe they wanted to say something about a subject and found the words. Whatever it is, in works by great composers, in the song is a pure moment of reality. So it’s exactly the

same thing as an opera.” Asked if she has any advice for younger singers, she tells people to stay true to themselves no matter what, especially given the impact that the Internet is having on the world. “I don’t think that the really great people, the true artists that are there in the world, will be changed, because they will always exist. But the way the world treats them will perhaps change their paths. If we’re talking purely about singers, even my career path would be completely different if the world hadn’t already moved on in the way it has in the last 10-15 years – wanting younger people, wanting the next name. I’m not saying I don’t have a fantastic and successful career, but there is a change that is happening right now – they want people who look a certain way. The culture has changed, and it has impacted the way the younger singers will be allowed to develop their careers and what they will be able to give out in their prime years of their lives. People have to be incredibly smart. Much more true to themselves, much, much stronger, much more single minded so they’re not completely corrupted, that they don’t go to the gym more than they practice at home and are too tight and too stiff so they can’t actually sing very well, but they’ll look good doing it. It’s all a bit.” And finally, “Look at the words. Don’t listen to how everybody else is responding to it. Respond to it completely with your own intelligence and with your own heart, and build it from there. Always respond, respond, respond, from your own intelligence in what you feel, from your gut to the material at hand."

Alice Coote will be performing at the Metropolitan Opera in Two Boys, which premieres on October 21. For more information about the opera and for tickets, click here.

12


Death and the Powers Ilana Walder-Biesanz

In the opera, Death and the Powers, the Musical Chandelier engages in a sensuous duet with Simon Powers’ wife, Evvy (mezzo-soprano Patricia Risley) in the “Touch Me” scene. Photo by Jill Steinberg.

Modern opera productions often incorporate creative uses of technology; Lepage’s Ring, anyone? Tod Machover’s “robot opera” Death and the Powers takes this engagement with technology a step further: not only is the opera about technology and transhumanism, but was also developed in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab to produce elaborate robotic sets that react to the singers. Whether you enjoy Machover’s very contemporary music or not (I didn’t, but rave reviews and a Pulitzer Prize nomination indicate that I am probably in the minority),

Death and the Powers offers a bold example for interdisciplinary opera productions. This “opera of the future” exemplifies the sort of experimentation that makes contemporary opera a unique and valuable contribution to the history of the genre. The plot, written by the playwright Randy Weiner and the poet Robert Pinsky (a former U.S. Poet Laureate, and also the librettist) is as follows: The robot chorus tries and fails to understand the idea of death, but announces that they must follow their 1


creators’ command to perform a ritual drama. Each robot becomes a human actor, and they portray this story: Aging billionaire Simon Powers avoids death by uploading his consciousness into “the System,” which allows him to avoid death and continue to control his home, interact with his family, and conduct business. The transition is successful—as he gleefully announces to his daughter Miranda and his assistant Nicholas, “I have billions of bucks. And I can still sign checks.” His wife Evvy is unsure of how to deal with her husband’s transformation, at one point entangling herself erotically with a chandelier that, like all of the house, contains her husband’s consciousness. Simon’s meld with the

System is also disastrous for the outside world (for unclear reasons), but he refuses to answer the questions of the delegation sent to him, instead quoting a German folk poem (“O Röschen rot! … Man lies in deepest need. Man lies in deepest pain. Yes, I would rather be in Heaven”). Evvy and Nicholas engage more and more with the System and finally choose to join Simon there. Miranda hesitates, feeling attached to the mortal world and her body. As she sings her uncertainty, the theatre fills with sound and light, and the robot chorus returns. They discuss the meaning of the play and of “death,” but do not reach any answers and simply conclude, “Now is the time for the ordained ritual to come to rest.”

Operabots—the chorus of robots that narrate and comment on the story as it unfolds; and The System—the environment into which Simon Powers ‘downloads’ himself after the decay of his physical being. Photo by Jonathan Williams.

14


MIT Media Lab student Elly Jessop tests sensors with baritone James Maddalena who sung the title role of Simon Powers in the Monaco premiere and US performances in Boston and Chicago.

Although we have not reached the point of consciousness uploads (indeed, philosophers and cognitive scientists debate whether such a thing is possible), the opera is clearly topical. With new technologies come questions about human enhancement and what it means to be human: How much of the body should we replace? Do chemical or surgical modifications to our brains affect our status as human beings? Where is the line between medicine, which helps the disabled and sick, and enhancements, which increase the capacities of the already healthy? Current technologies already raise these issues, and a

consciousness upload is simply a very extreme form of enhancement with similar, if more intense, ethical and philosophical problems. Without providing answers, this opera struggles with those questions. In addition to engaging with technology as subject matter, Death and the Powers uses new technologies to convey the futuristic world of the Powers family. The production requires over 40 computers, which run distributed control systems designed especially for the opera. They have a lot to control: Hyperinstruments, operabots, set pieces, and Simon’s “disembodied

15


performance.” The chandelier is what Machover terms a Hyperinstrument: an electronic instrument with sensors that responds to delicate fluctuations in the musician’s motions and vital signs, such as skin temperature or heart rate. The operabots that serve as the chorus not only sing, but also drive around and adjust their heights, mostly autonomously. Interestingly, their computing power is provided by OLPC CO-1 computers, the laptops developed for the One Laptop Per Child initiative. Along with the three large bookshelves that dominate the set, they are operated using software that monitors them and the actors (we wouldn’t want any robotactor collisions!) and determines and sends commands accordingly. Of course, the production hasn’t entirely been left at the mercy of computers: backstage operators can control the robots using video game controllers if needed. One of the most interesting innovations in Death and the Powers is what Machover terms "disembodied performance". After Simon enters the System early in the opera, he performs from the orchestra pit, outfitted with sensors that capture his movement and vital

signs. Software analyses these numbers, expressively conveying his offstage performance through the lighting and motion of the onstage robots and bookshelves. In the System, Simon seems omnipresent, and this is largely achieved through sound. The MIT Media Lab developed high-capacity real-time audio processing software to enable them to move sound around the theater. Over 140 speakers provide a uniquely immersive environment with precise control over where sounds seem to emerge. Death and the Powers premiered in Monaco in 2010 and has since been performed in Boston (where I saw it) and Chicago. Its next stop is Dallas in February 2014. For those far away, more information and media can be found at the official MIT Media Lab project site and the Opera of the Future blog. It’s worth exploring, regardless of your opinion of Machover’s music. Would I rather listen to a Verdi opera? Yes. Nevertheless, by addressing pressing questions and incorporating technology in novel ways, Death and the Powers plays an important role in the development of contemporary opera.

Ilana Walder-Biesanz is an engineer, actress, and mezzo-soprano. She recently graduated with a Systems Engineering major from Olin College. Starting in October, she will pursue a graduate degree in European Literature at the University of Cambridge on a GatesCambridge fellowship. She tweets about opera (and occasionally other topics) as @ilana_wb.

16


Harmonizing a Harlot: Interview with composer Iain Bell Holly Nicholas

Britain has yielded some of history’s most formidable classical composers, and this tradition has not died out in the twenty-first century. Iain Bell is part of the new school of British composers, playing with the rich musical tradition to depict familiar subjects in a contemporary way. His latest project is an opera based on Hogarth’s series of etchings, A Harlot’s Progress, starring his longstanding muse, Diana Damrau. Opera21 magazine sat down with him to pick his brain about his work, his life, and what it’s like to write a modern-day mad scene.

What was your first experience of classical music? Well, I didn’t grow up in a ‘classical’ home in any way. I’m from all over the place. My family are from North West London; I grew up in Sudbury Hill, which isn’t far from that neck of the woods. Further back it’s the East End. I don’t have a ‘classical’ family, so it wasn’t until I went to secondary school and I had a very classical – well, at the time she seemed like the archetypal diva – my music teacher, she sang with an operatic voice and I couldn’t tell you if it was any good or not, but to my ears it was like ‘Wow!’, and she looked the part, and so she was a great inspiration. I was in awe of her and the music she’d play us, whether it be Penderecki or Bach. So she was my first point of reference, I think.

What do you think of British music education now as opposed to when you were in the system? It was not very good when I was doing it – by Year 9 [age 13-14] music was an option, pitted against all the foreign languages and…pottery, and things like that which were all wonderful, but I just think it was pitiful that it was only an option, and from what I gather it’s even worse now. In secondary schools, I don’t even know if they’re taught music with any historical context anymore, which is why – I’ve just found out from Vienna – I’ll be doing school talks, and I’m really excited about that. I did have to ask because the subject matter of A Harlot’s Progress is quite dark: it deals with STDs, madness, pregnancy. Fortunately enough,

17


music and the hard-edged Weber and Webern, and marry the two.

they’re around sixteen. I’m really excited I have this opportunity to speak to people of a school age.

Who are some of your favourite contemporary composers? Nico Muhly – we’re exactly the same age; he’s New York, I’m London. I think his music is astounding, especially his choral writing. We’ve never met, but we have the same publishers, so we’re like music brothers. He’s able to layer these voices on top of each other so that they’re babbling, in a kind of Philip Glass way, but he’s got his own voice. I love Ligeti, his music is so odd. He’s got these string quartets and standalone pieces for about twelve violins, but they’re the most atmospheric, coloured, perfumed pieces I’ve ever heard in my life, and it opened up my mind to the possibilities of small groups. Charlotte Bray is another contemporary composer who’s my age; she’s wonderful.

So do you think music education is better in mainland Europe? I think there’s more of an awareness of classical music in continental Europe, from what I can see. In Vienna, in the subway they have opera playing, so they’re surrounded by it more, and it’s a bigger part of the tourist trade – in Salzburg Mozart is everywhere, so in these places there is more of an awareness. How did you get into composing? I started writing when I was about four, just on the recorder. The first piece I ever wrote was called ‘Being Happy’, and I could still play it, I think! As a child, it was just an outlet for me, picking up recorders and playing at keyboards, and my parent saw that that was an affinity I had, and got me a keyboard and then a clavinova. They saw it was something I could do and gently encouraged me, and they didn’t come from that sort of background in any way. I’m one of five boys, and I’ve got one brother who’s an exceptional artist, and two other brothers play rugby, and they were similarly encouraged.

And what music do you listen to in your daily life? Not only classical, I listen to lots of film scores, I love the sweep of that. Listening to lots of opera recently, and what I have been listening to recently, not because it’s anything like A Harlot’s Progress, but because it put me in the music of the time, was seventeenth- and eighteenth-century dance music. There’s an amazing group called The City Waites, and their singer’s a lady called Lucy Skeaping, and I was listening to that because it put me in that place. I’m at the gym every day, so in my iPod at the moment I’ve got Now That’s What I Call Running, so I listen to things that are completely different from what I’m working on.

Who were some of your major influences in composing classical music? I love William Walton; I adore Benjamin Britten; Ligeti, I find his chamber music astounding; Berg’s Wozzeck and Lulu, I love. One type of music I really love, though it’s nothing like my music, is fourteenth- and fifteenth-century ancient music of Dunstable. I get really excited by it because its tonality isn’t what we’re used to in any way – it has these kinds of shifts and harmonies that to our ears sound ultra-contemporary, because they’re so acidic. I adore that music. The British and Germanic schools of the twentieth century, they take the lyricism of British folk

Any pop music? What did you grow up listening to? Bjork, I love, but that’s still quite avant-garde. Growing up, I was the biggest gay cliché going, so in my ultra-youth it was Kylie [Minogue], and then it was the Spice Girls in

18


How did you choose who to collaborate with for the libretto of A Harlot’s Progress? Well, I’d written several song cycles for Diana Damrau, and she said ‘let’s do an opera’ and so I was seeking inspiration for what theme to use, and it happened that I went to the Tate Britain which had an exhibition of Hogarth on at the time, and I saw A Harlot’s Progress and thought ‘I’m going to do this!’. At the time I was reading Peter Ackroyd’s A Biography of London, and I contacted his agent and let her know about my idea, and within a couple of weeks, he was on board. So it was a question of me alighting upon a theme, and I happened to be reading something that corresponded.

my teens; I must confess to a heartfelt smile when they closed the Olympics. When my friends from school would think back about me, they wouldn’t think I’d be writing operas; they’d think I was still some groupie for the Spice Girls! At home with my mum and dad, it was lots of Eurythmics, Kate Bush – the good music of the eighties. You’ve written a lot of lieder, especially for Diana Damrau. Did the lieder come more naturally than writing opera? I find them completely different things. You have to be so concentrated and telescoped when you’re writing songs; it has to contain everything, particularly if you’re doing one song, as opposed to a song cycle. You have to be so concentrated with your approach, whereas with opera you have more time to say things, more time for the emotion to burn, so it’s not like one is junior school and the other’s big school. I find that they require completely different things from me, and then with lieder, you have the issue of how to engage the piano and make the piano as orchestral and as colourful as you can, as you only have that to play with, whereas you’re spoilt with a chamber or a full orchestra.

Is the music in A Harlot’s Progress referential to the period it’s set in? No. I decided to keep away from any paraphrasing or nods to that period because I wanted it to be my music. I think it works astoundingly well in [Stravinsky’s] The Rake’s Progress; his use of the neo-classical style, which is what was happening at that time, is expertly done, but it just wasn’t for me. I wanted to tell the downfall in my own idiom. One thing I do reference and subvert slightly in the final scene, which is her funeral and her wake, and all the people around her are drinking, so we’ve got a drinking song, which is somewhat reminiscent, in the compound rhythms, of the eighteenth century, but twisted.

You wrote your own text for the Daughters of Britannia cycle. Was this a conscious choice because of the subject matter? Yes, it was. That was the first thing I ever wrote for Diana, she’d heard some things I’d written from 2004, and asked if I would write something for her. We were batting around ideas and alighted upon perhaps doing a song cycle, each song portraying a different British mythical or historical heroine, and as no such suite existed in poetry, with the same voice, the right length and a unified tone, I thought I’d do it myself.

Yet the songs in your Daughters of Britannia cycle seem to recall their respective settings. Was that intentional? For that song I deliberately took away a great deal of atonality or chromaticism. I just wanted them to be very pure and very modal, not necessarily to get a Tudor or a baroque sound to it, but to give a cleanliness and a plangent quality. It’s quite a unique piece within my oeuvre, to be that un-chromatic. I believe that chromaticism is an expression of

19


attention to make sure her role fit in to that Lucia mould. Diana also has this crazy ability, which is even more interesting than her high notes, to build heavy dynamics on a pinpoint. So we had this coloratura soprano, and the two other female roles would be mezzos because they’re earthier roles. The tenor role, the wealthier man, the older man, I wanted him to sound affected and slightly effete. And the guy she has an affair with, he’s much more carnal, sexual, and warmer, so the baritone voice. We looked at vocal archetypes to see how that person was portrayed in opera, but also they fit within the space.

angst and darkness, a dramatic tool a composer can use, and I do! At the end of A Harlot’s Progress when she has her mad scene, it’s completely atonal. How do you go about putting a set of pictures to music, rather than having a book or play as source material? If you’re setting a book, you have to generally follow A to Z and there’s no leeway to out your own thoughts into the trajectory. With A Harlot’s Progress, we had only points A to F, the six pictures, so we were decide on our own how she got there. Peter Ackroyd and I had some hilarious and naughty conversations about just how to - he’s got a cheeky, irreverential sense of humour, and I don’t need much helping in that respect! – so we had some fun in deciding how to link them, while also being true to Hogarth, because the Hogarth is also very raw and very dark. We didn’t want the pieces to be polite, so we wanted to inject that ourselves, because you’re only given clues in the pictures. I preferred that, really.

It’s interesting that you’re including a mad scene [Iain: Thirty-one minutes long!] Did you draw on any other composers whose mad scenes Diana sings? Female mad scenes in particular – I mean, there are male mad scenes like Peter Grimes and Tom Rakewell, but they’re not very long – but female mad scenes informed me in terms of the tessitura. The mad scene always comes at the end of the opera when the soprano is tired, and it was good to see where Donizetti took the voice in his mad scene, where he puts the high notes, where he gives her rest, that kind of templating, but I know her voice so well - I’ve been at every one of her album recordings as a second pair of ears - so it was more ‘What can I do for her instrument?’ – Donizetti based his on the first Lucia, Britten based his on Pears.

How did you go about choosing voice types for the rest of the characters? First of all, it was choosing the rest of the characters, because there are a great many in the paintings that we haven’t used. We haven’t created anyone new, because I don’t think opera benefits from having too many characters, so we had to decide what the story was going to be, and it was this gutsy young woman coming to London and trying to find her place, becoming a courtesan for a wealthy man, so we needed the wealthy man, the fixerupper who found her the wealthy man, we needed her maid, we needed her lover for whom she’s kicked out of the wealthy man’s house, and that was our cast. Obviously the centrepiece was Ms. Damrau, and she and I started devising it in 2007, and she already knew what she’d be doing at this time: lots of Lucias, lots of Traviatas, so I made clear

How much input have you had with the production? Well, when I found out who the director was, I thought they’d want to know what was in my head when I was writing, as a courtesy, and it would help them, so I gave them a little moodboard of images I had in my head, but I didn’t want to have any more input than that, because I thought, inasmuch as I own the sound, and I do, they must have some ownership over the visual; they can’t think

20


we’ve always had, but to have Mozart singers, who normally wouldn’t venture anywhere near us, coming is really an honour.

I’m going to be glaring over their shoulder. So I just let them play. They kindly showed me some of the costume designs in January and they were awesome. Do they reflect how you’re trying to keep away from referring to the setting too much? Yeah, it’s not giving anything away when I say they make a wink to the time, but not much more than a wink. So they reference it in a really subverted way, which is right for the world premiere. I’d be delighted to see this piece set in the contemporary Eastern Bloc and rather than having syphilis she has AIDS, or I’d be happy to see it set in powdered-wigterritory from where it was written. Set it anywhere, as long as it’s telling the story. But for the world premiere I wanted it to be a little bit…hot, and Diana was really open to that – she has so many costume changes, more changes than scenes, because a lot happens mid-scene. The couturier who’s done them, I didn’t have any notes, other than ‘Wow!’

What do you think of broadcast operas like the Metropolitan Opera HD transmissions? I think it’s brilliant. We need more spokesperson opportunities for people, I want to be out there on every television programme. We need ambassadors, we need journalists, we need critics. We might not like critics but it’s one of the ways in which our industry is stabilised. So what Peter Gelb has done, and what other houses are now doing and what other multimedia platforms are doing is outstanding, in that it’s bringing it to a wider audience. So we have DVDs, and we have online broadcasts, but what I also think we need to do, which is going to happen with Harlot, is that we need to offer the live audiences something different, to offer a more multi-media, multi-sensory experience, so that it’s not the same as the YouTube experience, because that’s just one thing flat, on a screen.

Do you think there’s a stigma against modern opera in Britain? I just don’t think we’re exposed to enough of it, because we’ve got some amazing opera companies doing some amazing things, but lots of them are touring, and I think we just need to hear more. More variety. I love the avant-garde – I wish I was at Salzburg listening to Gawain. People think modern opera and they think it’s going to be ugly, but there are so many types of modern opera, from those I’ve mentioned to the chamber opera of Tarik O’Regan. There are so many – Thomas Ades, who’s writing a new piece, The Exterminating Angel, which I think is going to go everywhere. Previously, with contemporary music, often we didn’t always attract the most beautiful voices to sing our music, the amazing, stunning singers like Diana, Simon Keenlyside and Bejun Mehta, as well as the amazing character voices that

You’ve just finished your second opera, a commission for Houston Grand Opera. How did that come about? I originally met with the HGO just to talk about my work; they knew I was doing A Harlot’s Progress and we thought about other ideas. I suggested A Christmas Carol and it happened that it was something they were really receptive to, and they then realised they wanted to do a series of Christmas operas, and this would be the first. I’ve just finished that this week, thank goodness, because I didn’t want to have two operas running at the same time. A Christmas Carol was originally going to be a fully-staged realisation of the book, because there was a theatrical adaptation that Dickens sanctioned, but then Houston’s music director Patrick Summers, a huge champion of contemporary music, he said ‘Iain, you do know there’s a one man of A Christmas Carol?’ and it rung bells, and he said ‘Would

21


this be interesting to you, because you’ve just composed a huge grand opera, and this would be something that’s never been done, an operatic monodrama in which one person plays the whole thing?’. So I took that in, and it happened that Dickens in the 1850s performed the piece playing all the roles himself, and I thought this is too good to be true. We found a script, so we had a libretto. This is really the antithesis of A Harlot’s Progress, in that Harlot starts off quite light, chromatically as well it starts off quite gentle, and then it just becomes sinful. That darkness in A Harlot’s Progress is the same as A Christmas Carol starts with, the haplessness and the lack of hope at the end of Harlot – and it is really sad - is Scrooge, and his blackness, but fortunately Scrooge is redeemed.

lined up a really amazing director who I was looking forward to meeting, but I thought to myself, with this amazing team, I need some help, from someone who understands this piece, who can give me some guidance, and I found out that the actor, writer, director and legend Simon Callow does this piece in the West End. Simon agreed to meet with me to chat about the piece and to give me his insight about how the audience respond to different parts of the piece, because that would help to decide what to cut and what to keep. I told Houston about this, and they asked if he might want to direct, and he did. And anything further in the future? Well, I can only be vague but I’ve got a concerto for a British orchestra, another opera for a British opera house in 2016, which I start writing in January. I’m hoping also, because I’m still in A Christmas Carol, I want to see if there’ll be a choir willing to commission a small suite of carols based on the opera, maybe set to some Latin texts, something completely unrelated, and take some of the motifs I’ve got in A Christmas Carol and play with them, while I’m still there – it’s been Christmas for me and my boyfriend for a long time!

So I knew we had to do this, but what we need is a great singer, so I suggested to Houston, the amazing, amazing American tenor Anthony Dean Griffey. He’s the most recent Peter Grimes at the Met, and if you can do that role, it means you’ve got stamina, but it also means you’ve got different colours, because Grimes is one minute a visionary, the next minute he’s shrieking and bellowing. And Houston said yes, because I didn’t know this, but he sings there every year. They’d

Holly Nicholas is a Verdi fanatic and Classics student living in London. She blogs informally about opera at tornamiadir.tumblr.com, and is currently working on her undergraduate thesis about Roman history in opera.

22


The Gospel According to the Others Price Walden Sometime in the spring of 2009, I heard El Niño for the first time. It was my first John Adams piece. I have no idea how I came upon the piece, but it quickly became a watershed moment in my musical life. I grew up Free Will Baptist, and I had no idea what to do with these strange new stories, ideas, and the music that illuminated them. It was like I stumbled on this new, unconventional Bible. But, despite this unfamiliarity, I was immediately transfixed. I asked for the DVD for Christmas, and watched it about 10 times in the next two weeks. Since then, I’ve probably seen it upwards of 75 times (at least 5 during each Advent, and multiple times throughout the rest of the year). I’ve halfjoked before that I subscribe to the gospel of John Adams, which is probably truer than anyone could imagine. When it was announced that Adams was writing a “sequel” to El Niño based on the Passion, it was like Christmas come early. I patiently waited for the premiere, devouring every bit of information we were given in interviews and videos. When Adams posted Peter Sellars’ synopsis on his blog, I went into overdrive doing research, trying to know as much as I could. I could probably quote verbatim most of the reviews of both premieres. The day they posted the broadcast of the premiere was another defining moment in my musical life. I was in New York City at the time, and I had woken up early so I could get in the rush line to see the Pippin revival, I conveniently had about a 4 hour wait, just enough to listen to the piece almost twice. As I sat there on the sidewalk of 45th street, I

watched as people passed by with strange looks, wondering why someone was crying in the middle of a rush line. There was no good explanation for what I was feeling. John Adams has often described himself as a “secular liberal,” and has always requested that interviewers not ask him about his religion or spirituality. When he was asked about this, he answered that he doesn't "feel comfortable talking about [his faith] — no matter what I say, it comes out sounding wrong." Perhaps a more appropriate titled for El Niño would have been María, for the voice of the work is undeniably the Virgin’s. In addition to the soprano and mezzo-soprano soloists, who both sing the words of Mary, Peter Sellar’s original staged version also featured a film running in time with the work, showing a version of the same story set in modern-day Los Angeles. These three Marys all join together to show different facets of a woman we thought we knew. It’s almost as if they are saying that all mothers are Mary. The miracle of childbirth isn’t reserved for Jesus, but every birth is just as miraculous. The music Adams writes walks hand-inhand with the story he tells: it is mystic, strangely beautiful, full of darkness and light. Close to the end of the first act, Adams sets a poem by Rosario Castellanos, “Se habla de Gabriel,” (not the angel, but Castellanos’ son): As all guests do, my son got in my way crowding my space ruining my schedule [...]

23


His body begged mine to give birth, to give way to give him a place in the world the time he would need for his story.

opened Paradise.” Every birth opens paradise. Our lives are all connected to the Divine. In The Gospel According to the Other Mary, John Adams set a text by Louise Erdrich (from her collection Baptism of Desire, which is as much of a Bible as anything in my life right now) about Mary Magdalene washing Jesus’ feet. It is full of beautiful eroticism. She claims that she will drive boys to smash empty bottles upon their brows. She will pull them right out of their skins. It’s almost a fetishistic ritual: the bowing at the feet, the washing with the hair. Adams surrounds this text in music that makes you feel as if you could smell the perfume in the air. The orchestra feels as though it is writhing in its own skin until it settles in a strange pattern, when, suddenly, the chorus, filled with the smells of the perfume, possessively declare “Spiritus sanctus!” over and over, ritualistically. (In a similar fashion, Olivier Messiaen writes a movement called the Amen of Desire in his piece Visions de l’Amen, that supposedly represents the love and communion between God and man, but feels only 2 steps away from being the soundtrack to a very sophisticated porno.) One of the most heart-breaking moments in the entire work (and maybe ever) is when the women are at the cross, weeping. Jesus looks down from the cross and sees his mother and tells her “Mother, behold thy son.” Unlike the Biblical story, he is not referring to John. He is asking His mother to look at him. To see what has happened. At this point, Adams references his own “Mary” music for El Niño and it is devastating. You can feel her heart break as she remembers the star, the shepherds, the wise men, the birth.

Mary is a human mother, taking care of a human child, who cries, needs changing, and doesn’t sleep through the night. Adams paints a beautiful picture of Mary and Jesus as every mother and child. He doesn’t focus on their holy or perfect status, but colors them in a new way. Adams sets this gorgeous text over a series of long string drones, with small ticks from the piccolo and harp, as if to count down the minutes until the child is born. In the final scene of act one, the words of Gabriela Mistral paint a metaphor for the childbirth, exclaiming: A little girl comes running, she caught and carries a star. [...] They try to take it away– but how can she live without her star? [...] It didn’t simply fall–it didn’t. It remained without her, and now she runs without a body, changed, transformed into ashes. The road catches fire and our braids burn, and now we all receive her because the entire Earth is burning. Adams appropriately sets this against a gorgeous ecstatic backdrop of percussiveness, with the chorus proclaiming in Latin, “The tender shoot which is the Virgin’s son has

24


When Mary (Magdalene) finds the empty tomb, she immediately begins to weep. Here is perhaps the only man she has ever loved, and now she can’t even take care of his body. A man she thinks is the gardener walks up to her and asks “Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?” Mary begs to be told where the body has been taken. The gardener, now revealed as Jesus, softly speaks her name through the voices of the countertenors. The music is strange, but refreshing. Adams doesn’t give us a Messiaen-like triumphal celebration of the Resurrection. Instead, he shows us the story through Mary’s eyes, what it was like to just be a friend of his. Adams sets two more Erdrich texts (she is by far the work’s main voice), both having to do with Jesus. At the beginning of the second act, Jesus has a “fever dream,” where he chops down his cross, buries his parents alive, and flees to Damascus and Beirut to lead a revolution. It presents a more violent version of The Last Temptation of Christ. He forsakes the Divine plan for his own savage design. The music is just as savage as the story. The piano and electric bass lay down a menacing ostinato, while the chorus practically screams above it. The music is relentless and terrifying. It will not let up until Jesus has fled. Later in the same act, Jesus, on the cross, screams out to his Father who had abandoned him in heaven, I want no shelter. I deny the whole configuration. I hate the weight of earth. I hate the sound of water. Ash to ash you say, but I know different. I will not stop burning. Jesus has succumbed to the human side of being fully human/fully divine. Up to this

point in the scene, the music had been rather subdued, occasionally passing out, then stirring again. Shivers of pain and cold running through us. But at this point, a bass drum hit signals the final rush. Jesus engages in a yelling competition with the bass drum, and he wins. The orchestra echoes his anger in the yells of brass instruments and the rumbles of bass instruments. Until finally, he completely gives up, the pain is too much. We immediately relate to him, because who among us wouldn’t be crying the same or worse? Adams succeeds in these works by deepening these ancient characters and stories with modern day poetry and stories. (At the beginning of the work, Mary has adopted the story of Dorothy Day, where she is in jail for being a part of the women’s movement, and is tortured by the sound of a drug addict in withdrawals in the next cell.) He uses a similar idea in Doctor Atomic, but it is the exact opposite. He uses these ancient texts, from the Bhagavad Gita, and the less ancient John Donne and Muriel Rukeyser, to deepen Oppenheimer and his wife’s torture of being involved in the creation of the atomic bomb, a story we all think we know. John Adams focuses on the Others. He takes these stories we think we know and turns them on their heads, creating deeper characterizations and meanings that cause us to find ourselves in these stories we probably never could. These ideas loom over me as I work on the libretto for a new piece I’m writing, based on the parable of the Prodigal Son. The work is based on the Other Son, the older brother of the prodigal. In a manner similar to Orozco’s Christ, the older son, angry at how the father has treated his brother upon his return, rises

25


up against him and kills him, recalling Cain. Afterwards, he goes to his father, steals his portion of the inheritance, and goes into the city to squander it away, exactly like his brother had done. There can be no doubt that this piece would not have ever been planned without these “operatorios� and their enormous influence on me, musically and beyond.

I recommend these works more than any other works I love. They are two of my favorite pieces of all time. I can’t help but want everybody to hear these works and find themselves in the stories of the Marys, Martha, Jesus, and the other various characters in these beautiful stories. We are all the Others, and religious or not, these are human stories, just like the stories of our current day, and our personal stories.

Price Walden is a young composer and pianist based in Oxford, MS., where he is currently pursuing degrees in Music and English at the University of Mississippi, with emphases in the music and literature of the 20th century. In his rare spare time, Price intends to read books and does not bake, though he does make a mean risotto. http://www.pricewalden.com

26


The New Composer: Adés and Muhly – Absurdity versus Practicality Griffin Candey To begin this article by harping on the financial crises that plague the operatic profession at the moment is, without a doubt, notably tiresome – both for me and for you. Articles upon articles been penned to that effect, often suggesting an array of preventative methods that will assuredly help others to skirt the same fiery fate. Their tactics spiral out in many directions, but seem to spring from one central motto: “How do we repackage what we already have for an audience that we don’t have?” The efficacy of these re-imaginings and re-brandings is often underwhelming and varies wildly by location, rendering these types of methods unpredictable if not unusable. Other solutions, however, are already in effect. Louis Garrick, the artistic director of the Sydney Chamber Opera, posits in a Limelight article that, while those sorts of tactics “do no harm,” they “skirt the central issue, which is much deeper.”1 He continues by saying that it is not branding, but perhaps the actual structure of these companies that causes the majority of their problems; he suggests in his pattern for remodeling that, while “canonical repertoire” has its place in every theater’s season, it should be equal to “significant 20th-century operas we don’t hear enough of [...] and new work by local composers.” This structure, while foreign to some larger houses, is something that has led to tremendous success among small- to medium-sized houses – he specifically mentions both ENO and Berlin’s Komische Oper, and I’ve personally seen great results

from Chicago Opera Theater and Forth Worth Opera. As an admirer and composer of new opera, I am understandably biased towards Garrick’s living, breathing solution. We seem to be tiring out the longevity of the “standards,” those operatic pillars that we thought would last us forever. They are our petroleum – useful and historically-inseparable, but toxic with overuse and far from inexhaustible. (And, similarly to petroleum: aging generations sometimes have a hard time swallowing that pill.) So, in short: yes, new operas and productions are the antidote, in my book – but that’s not the full thesis. Our current standard of new opera is a bit hit-or-miss, and definitely insufficient for this purported role. New opera must be both inventive and a very certain something else: practical. This newer, more practical brand of opera must aid the theater, fit the performers, and fulfill the audience. It’s a tall order, but a necessary one – how can we begin to enact this solution? Let’s take a step back: In April of this year, one of my friends sent me a transcribed interview in The Guardian with Thomas Adés, one of Great Britain’s best-known living composers.2 It did not make for pleasant reading. In the interview, written on the eve of his second opera (The Tempest) appearing on the Met stage, Adés’ distaste for opera is made blatantly obvious in statements like: “Most of the time I sit and watch operas and think: this is all absurd. Really we shouldn't all be here!” A statement like that might be interpreted as

1

2

arrick, ouis; http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/BlogEntry/333 356,making opera now.aspx

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/sep/28/co mposer thomas ades

27


importantly – creative forces that respect the process and its participants more so than themselves. Shortly after being miffed about the interview with Adés, the cultural hub site BlackBook posted their interview with another living composer, an American innovator whose newest opera (Two Boys) will be at the Met this season: Nico Muhly.3 It, in stark comparison, made for very pleasant reading. What one finds in the Muhly interview is what one finds in every Muhly interview: no self-important monologuing or bashing of other composers, only a very levelheaded (and hilarious) take on how he creates, why he creates, and what he takes away from the whole process. His practicality shines out in statements like: “At heart I'm really quite at traditionalist. […] I'm not interested in breaking anything down. I have an opera at the Met and when you write an opera for the Met you're not like, ‘Oh, I'm going to fill it with weird electronic beats and whatever.’ No, you write something that's appropriate for the space.” After the disappointment of the Adés article, Muhly is a breath of fresh air. This is the other, and the more desirable, end of the spectrum: composers who care. What Muhly brings to composerhood that I wish I could transplant into all composers is that positivity and, again, practicality. His compositions and views on music do not grow from some deep, impossible, childish desire to alter history with a single chord; he simply wants to create convincing, thoughtful music that can be appreciated across the stereotyped musical boundaries. (And, as is evident in his current popularity, he has been overwhelmingly successful at that.) I admit that I was unable to see the English mounting of Two Boys, and have only absorbed of its music what is available online. I cannot immediately predict that it is the perfect opera – but what I have seen and

simply an awkward joke if Adés were to thereafter rally against this perceived absurdity. He does not. When further questioned, he continues, “No, that is the point: the more absurd, the more indefensible, the more it makes sense. Operas that are worthily about something, some idea or ideal, and that try to make a point, especially a political point, are just absurd in an off-putting way.” I was, to say the least, displeased to hear that this was Mr. Adés’ thoughts of my profession, but in the hopes of earning him redemption, I decided to put some time aside to listen to his Tempest. What I found was everything except practical: some samplings of convincing music, but a much larger helping of nearlyimpossible and unidiomatic vocal writing (most famously, Ariel’s frequent whistle tones) above an orchestral fabric that did nothing to aid to the performers onstage, let alone to guide the audience in any dramatic direction except out the door. While many of the leads survived their exceptionally trying roles, smaller characters seemed vocally strained and uncomfortable on stage, with little or no dramatic impetus built into their characters’ jagged melodies. This is one end of the spectrum: composers who create over-analytical, selfimportant and impractical operas. Pushing the boundaries when creating new art is important, but this inventiveness should never overcomplicate or burden a work. As a whole, Thomas Adés’ Tempest was far from a flop, but in a practical sense – if we approach it from the standards upon which we can build a future – its casting and performance difficulties highly discourage repeat performances in the years to come. It is far from a shining example to young composers. New opera can be our future, but only if it operates with its community and future built in from the beginning: convincing melodies that mortal opera singers can carry, music that draws in all flavors of audiences, and – most

3

http://www.blackbookmag.com/going between the notes with nico muhly 1.62246?PQId=1.46682

28


read of it is extremely promising, and it resounds with the practicality and awareness that will sustain it in the immediate and extended future. The path that we must take to build a future upon the new is to ensure that the new, itself, is well-built. The newly-composed operas that will carry us ahead should: 1) Aid the theater in which is it performed: Many opera houses are sometimes hesitant to perform new operas because the composer and librettist present a work which is difficult to mount, perform and sell to a potential audience – overcomplicated music, bland subject matter, impractically large casts or orchestras, lengthy run times, prohibitively expensive or dangerous dramaturgical needs (large battles, fire, hordes of zombies, et al.). The opera composer of the future will work with its salesmen to understand how it will be sold.

be rewritten, and that’s all there is to it. Singers nowadays sometimes have a kneejerk negativity towards new opera because they are often unintelligible and unrewarding. An opera is more likely to be repeated if the performers enjoy living in it. The opera composer of the future will work with singers to ensure that they are happy and comfortable.3) Love its audience: There is a distinct difference between complex orchestral textures and a web of utter bullshit. As David Lang put it this summer at a composer talk, “It’s not music until someone else hears it”. If music is only understood by its composer, then it has failed to communicate and ceases to be music. The composer of the future will respect and welcome the audience rather than belittling them. New operas are poised to become the stones to build the paths ahead: for this, they simply need to be appropriately shaped for their purpose. When built with this practicality, these operas will bolster our tired rosters and create a more diverse and fruitful standard for decades to follow.

2) Be kind to those who perform it: There is a distinct difference between difficult vocal roles and impractical ones. Difficult roles can be practiced and perfected; impractical ones simply need to

Griffin is both an opera singer and composer, with a MM in Music Performance from UIUC. You can find him at fachyeahoperasingers.tumblr.com.

29


Make sure to follow us on Twitter @opera21mag

Opera21


Come Scoglio A drama giocoso in three acts* K. A. Feltkamp

About the Author Kim Feltkamp is a mezzo-soprano currently pursuing her MM at Bard College in Dawn Upshaw’s Vocal Arts Program. She has been part of the online opera community as OperaRox, providing interactive opera liveshows and contests to educate and unite the opera community. She is also a published writer. You can find her at OperaRox, Kimozart, and her professional website.

Note from the Author I wrote this story to depict, as closely as possible, the people and events in Mozart’s life when he was at the height of his compositional success. The people in this novella all really lived and had personalities close to the characters portrayed here. This is a work of fiction, but the goal was to remain as close to history as possible. I took the time to read countless letters, journal entries, autobiographies, and the like, not only to capture the true essence of the people in the story, but also to get all the facts and dates straight. Many of the things said or alluded to by the characters are directly from these sources. The one exception to this is the narrator, Louise Villeneuve. History tells us what and where she sang, but not who she was. Therefore, I have taken some license in regard to the narrator and her connection to the composer, especially in ways which strengthen the plot. In short, everything relating to Ms. Villeneuve is completely from my imagination. I have made educated guesses from what others said about her, which is very little, and from the music that Mozart wrote for her, which tells us a bit more. Therefore, this story is a conglomerate of sorts, as all fiction tends to be, but there is a great deal of truth in it. I hope you enjoy the ride and learn a little of who Mozart truly was and what he experienced as a composer and a man. *continued series. Previous chapters can be found in earlier issues of Opera21.


January  30,  1790       The   days   crawled   by,   leading   inevitably   to   Sunday,   to   this   day.     Every   moment   seemed   immensely   full   so   that   by   the   time   evening   came,   the   morning   felt   so   far   away.     Whenever   my   mind   was  unoccupied,  it  immediately  reverted  back  to  Mozart.    I  couldn’t  keep  the  dilemma  from  my  mind.    I   kept  turning  the  problem  over  in  my  head,  trying  to  come  to  a  final  decision.     My  mind  had  it  all  figured  out,  but  my  heart  wouldn’t  come  to  terms  with  it.     The  internal  division  made  me  anxious.    I  couldn’t  relax.    I  thought  my  soul  would  leap  out  of  my   body  from  all  the  tension.     I  waited  backstage,  watching  the  third  performance  of  Cosi  move  swiftly  along.    The  men  were   just  finishing  their  opening  trios  and  it  was  almost  time  for  my  first  entrance.    La  Ferrarese  stood  next   to  me,  fidgeting  with  her  costume.    I  closed  my  eyes,  trying  to  find  calm  in  the  darkness.     The  music  from  the  stage  was  glorious.    I  could  hear  him  in  it!    Mozart…    There  was  so  much  of   him   in   his   music!     Every   time   I   heard   even   a   snatch   of   it,   I   felt   the   extent   of  his   love   for   me   all   over   again.    And  my  love  for  him.    I  couldn’t  help  but  love  him.    Listening  to  his  music  was  like  receiving  the   most  beautiful  love  letter  in  the  whole  world.    How  could  I  reject  it?     But  I  must!     The   men   came   off   the   stage   and   La   Ferrarese   pushed   me   from   behind.     It   was   time   to   be   Dorabella.     Louise’s   thoughts   were   no   more—   they   were   swallowed   up   by   the   troubles   of   this   young   Italian   girl.     These   were   my   only   moments   of   relief,   of   escape   from   the   decision   that   nagged   at   my   mind.    I  confidently  strode  into  the  light  of  the  stage.     All  went  well  until  my  first  aria.       “Smanie  implacabili...”  Implacable  longings…   The   words   suddenly   took   on   a   new   meaning.     They’d   just   been   frivolous   exaggerations   before   but  now  they  meant  something  to  me.     Dorabella  suddenly  disappeared  and  it  was  Louise  who  was  on   stage  complaining  about  her  grief.    It  was  terrifying.    My  heart  raced  and  my  breath  came  in  gulps.       “…d’amor  funesto…”    Doomed  love!       I  wasn’t  acting  anymore.    The  detachment  that  I’d  worked  so  hard  to  achieve  was  gone.    I  felt   the  things  that  I  was  singing  about.    Had  Mozart  felt  this  way  before?    The  music  seemed  too  real  to  be   a  mere  fabrication.    There  had  to  be  a  speck  of  truth  in  it.    Maybe  this  was  what  bothered  me  about  the   entire  opera.    Maybe  there  was  too  much  reality  wrapped  up  in  the  guise  of  fiction.     The  song  ended,  but  my  feelings  did  not.    I  floated  through  the  rest  of  the  scenes,  too  emotional   for  my  own  good.    I  tried  to  get  it  back  together,  but  my  attempts  ended  in  failure.    I  thought:   What  is  happening  to  me?    Where  is  my  professionalism?    How  have  I  fallen  so  low?    How  have  I   unraveled  so  far?   After   Despina’s   aria,   I   rushed   offstage.     I   bumped   into   Vincenzo   in   the   wings.     He   had   his   Albanian   garb   on   already.     The   ridiculous   turban   and   robe   always   made   me   laugh,   but   this   time   I   didn’t   even  smile  at  him.   He  reached  for  my  hand  and  gave  it  a  squeeze.   “Cheer  up,  Dorabella,”  he  whispered.    “You  haven’t  done  anything  wrong  yet.”   He  was  of  course  referring  to  the  fact  that  Dorabella  is  unfaithful  to  Ferrando,  his  character.    But   I  took  it  to  mean  something  completely  different.    If  only  he  knew!   Still,  the  gloom  faded  a  bit.    Gratitude  swelled  within  me.   “Thank  you,”  I  said,  kissing  him  on  the  cheek.   “You’re  welcome.”   I  left  him  in  the  shadows  of  the  wings.     The   curtain   call   came   too   quickly.     My   time   was   up.     I   knew   Mozart   would   be   backstage  


expecting   an   answer   within   the   hour.     What   would   I   say?     What   would   I   do?     Could   I   tell   him   that   I   hadn’t  decided?    That  I  couldn’t?   I  dressed  slowly.    My  dressing  room  was  a  sanctuary.    Here  I  could  be  safe  for  a  little  while.   I  watched  myself  in  the  mirror,  thinking  about  the  sort  of  person  that  I’d  become.    A  year  ago,   six  months  ago,  I  wouldn’t  have  dreamed  of  even  considering  these  things.    Yet  now  here  I  was…   Vincenzo  knocked  on  my  door.   “Come  in,”  I  called.   He  came  in,  his  expression  wary.    He  took  his  usual  seat  and  said,   “Nice  job  tonight.”   “You,  too.”   “You  want  to  go  out  with  Teresa  and  me?    We’re  going  to  get  something  to  eat.”   A  way  out!    It  would  be  so  easy…   My  promise  to  Mozart  made  me  say,   “No,  thank  you.    I  have  other  plans  tonight.”   Vincenzo  watched  me  carefully.    I  kept  my  gaze  away  from  him.    I  couldn’t  look  him  in  the  eye.     How  guilty  I  felt  under  his  scrutiny!    My  gaze  wandered  to  the  necklace  lying  on  my  dressing  table.    I   picked  it  up  and  turned  to  Vincenzo  saying,   “Can  you  help  me  with  this?”   “Of  course.”   He  stood  and  took  the  golden  chain  from  me.    He  looked  at  the  ring  that  I’d  hung  on  the  chain   and  asked,   “Whose  ring  is  this?”   “It   was   my   mother’s,”   I   said.     “I   received   it   in   the   mail   a   few   days   ago   and   I   haven’t   been   able   to   part  with  it  since.”   “It  was  her  wedding  ring,”  he  stated  more  than  asked.   I  nodded  as  he  gently  clasped  the  delicate  chain  around  my  neck.   “Thank  you,”  I  said  softly.   He  stood  behind  me,  simply  watching  our  reflection  in  the  mirror.    It  seemed  like  he  wanted  to   say  something,  but  didn’t.    Finally,  he  stepped  away  from  me  and  headed  for  the  door.   “I’ll  send  a  letter  in  the  next  few  days.    Teresa  wants  to  see  you.”   “That  would  be  nice,”  I  said.    “Besides,  what  are  we  going  to  do  with  this  whole  week  off?”   Vincenzo  laughed  and  said,   “Time  off?    What’s  that?”   He  looked  at  me  one  last  time,  then  said,   “Good  night,  Louise.”   “Good  night,  Vincenzo.”    Then  he  left  me.   I  was  sitting  for  only  a  minute  before  there  was  another  knock  on  my  door.    My  heart  started   pounding.    I  tried  to  sound  nonchalant  as  I  said,   “Come  in.”   Mozart  opened  the  door  tentatively,  peeking  his  head  in  first.    I  smiled  and  he  came  in  all  the   way,  closing  the  door  behind  him.    He  rushed  over  to  me,  taking  my  face  in  his  hands  and  kissing  my   cheek.   “Brava,”  he  said.    “Just  when  I  think  you  cannot  possibly  be  better,  you  improve.”   “Thank  you,”  I  said,  blushing.   “Your  ‘Smanie  implacabili’  was  a  bit  breathy  tonight.    That’s  not  like  you.    Granted,  it’s  almost   impossible  to  not  have  that  problem  in  that  song,  but  you  always  seem  to  pull  off  the  impossible.    Were   you  upset  about  something?”   I  didn’t  want  to  answer  him.    Instead  I  said,  


“I  guess  I  was  just  a  little  off  tonight.”   “It  happens,”  he  said.    “Otherwise,  you  were  perfect.”   “So,”  he  continued,  suddenly  all  energy,  “the  night  is  just  beginning.    Where  do  you  want  to  go?   What  do  you  want  to  do?    Your  will  is  my  command.”   What  did  I  want?   “Let’s  go  somewhere  quiet,”  I  said.    I  wanted  to  talk  to  him  in  private,  but  I  didn’t  want  to  do  it   in  the  dressing  room.    Even  a  carriage  was  better  than  a  dressing  room.   “Very  well,”  he  said.    “To  the  carriage  and  then  to  anywhere  you  desire.”   My  heart  missed  a  beat.   I   watched   the   snow   outside   my   window   as   we   sat   on   the   couch   in   my   room.     Something   had   settled  in  my  stomach  and  it  wouldn’t  go  away  no  matter  how  much  I  diverted  my  attention  away  from   it.   I   knew   it   wasn’t   right   to   have   him   in   my   room.     Had   the   lady   of   the   house   been   awake,   she   wouldn’t   have   let   Mozart   come   upstairs   with   me.     But   the   lady   of   the   house   was   fast   asleep   and   I’d   brought  Mozart  up  myself.   Mozart  had  my  hand  captive.    He  stroked  it  affectionately  as  I  watched  the  snow  fall.   “Dear  one,”  he  said,  “have  you  decided?”   I  sat  a  moment,  taking  in  the  feeling  of  his  hands  on  mine,  of  his  gaze  on  me…   Then  I  suddenly  had  a  vision  of  Constanze  waiting  up  at  home,  the  bed  sheets  gathered  around   her   cold   frame   as   she   thought   words   to   Mozart,   as   she   pleaded   with   him:   “Come   back,   my   darling.   Come  back  to  me.    Come  home.”   “Have  you  decided?”  I  asked  him.   He  frowned,  hurt.   “Do  you  think  I  do  this  lightly?”  he  asked.    “You  know  that  I  don’t  do  things  frivolously.    I  thought   this   all   through   before   I   ever   set   pen   to   paper   for   that   fateful   letter.     I   came   to   the   realization   that   I   must  have  you.    I’m  giving  up  everything  for  you,  trading  everything  away  for  you:  everything  that  I’ve   ever  believed  in,  everything  that  I’ve  ever  stood  for,  everything  that  I  have…    What  are  you  giving  up  for   me?”   My  heart  swelled  with  love.    I  smiled  at  him.   “If  I  had  things  my  way,  I’d  give  up  everything,”  I  said.   “Then  have  things  your  way,”  he  said.    “What  keeps  you  from  doing  whatever  you  wish?”   A   good   question.     What   was   it?     Society,   my   reputation,   fear,   my   promises   to   my   mother,   my   conscience,  God…    I  couldn’t  be  sure  exactly.    I  didn’t  answer  at  all.   “Louise,”  Mozart  said.    The  word  was  laced  with  intensity—the  intensity  that  I’d  come  to  love  so   much.    I  clutched  his  hand  tighter.    “Louise,  please  answer  me.    Please  tell  me  how  you  truly  feel.”   I  had  to.    I  had  to  say  it.   “I  love  you,”  I  whispered.   Mozart   sighed   heavily   as   though   he’d   been   waiting   and   praying   for   ages   and   now   had   finally   accomplished  the  one  thing  that  he  cared  about  most  of  all.    I  felt  all  the  tension  in  his  body  dissipate.   He   watched   me   carefully,   smiling   widely,   his   eyes   bright.     We   both   knew   that   some   sort   of   spell   had   finally  been  broken,  had  been  defeated  by  my  words.    The  air  in  the  room  was  fresh,  new.    There  was   nothing  between  us  now.    Love  filled  the  room  like  a  tangible  presence.   He  leaned  toward  me  and  did  the  one  thing  he  hadn’t  succeeded  at  until  now.   His   kiss   was   filled   with   such   raw   emotion,   with   such   sincerity,   that   I   felt   lightheaded   from   the   intensity.    It  wasn’t  aggressive  or  demanding,  only  generous  and  committed.    All  the  special  energy  in   his   music   was   here,   in   this   moment,   in   his   actions.     I   found   that   I   wanted,   more   than   anything,   to   contribute  to  this  new  form  of  artwork,  to  this  masterpiece.    I  wanted  to  give  back  everything  that  he’d  


given  me,  that  he  was  still  giving  me.   It  would  have  all  been  over  had  it  not  been  for…   The  bells  of  the  Stephansdom  chimed  midnight.   Mozart  and  I  stared  at  each  other,  not  touching,  as  the  bells  kept  ringing.   At  the  last  toll,  I  stood.   “I’m  sorry,”  I  said.   The   confusion,   the   cluttered   emotions,   the   subjectivity—it   was   all   gone.     The   veil   that   had   been   in  front  of  my  eyes,  a  veil  that  I  hadn’t  even  realized  was  there,  lifted  and  I  could  see  it  all.   The  finale  of  Cosi  flooded  my  brain.    The  characters  stood  together,  singing  in  harmony,  but  they   were  really  thousands  of  miles  apart.    All  of  their  relationships  were  destroyed  and  they  would  never   be  the  same  again  because  of  what  they  had  done.    Every  single  one  of  them  was  responsible  and  all   four  lovers  paid  the  price.    Infidelity  sowed  death.   I   couldn’t   allow   it.     I   couldn’t   open   the   door   to   death.     I   couldn’t   let   destruction   come   into   Mozart’s  house.    I  couldn’t  let  my  actions  destroy  his  life  and  Constanze’s  and  Karl’s.    I  wouldn’t.    I  loved   them  too  much.    And  I  loved  him  enough  to  give  him  away.   Mozart’s  question  echoed  in  my  mind:  “What  are  you  giving  up  for  me?”   What  would  I  give  for  him?    Everything.    My  dreams,  my  desires,  my  love…    Everything  that  I’d   found  and  wanted  to  keep.   But  I  would  not  submit  to  myself.   Come  scoglio.       Like  a  rock  I  would  stand  strong.   I  became  painfully  aware  of  reality  again.   Mozart  stared  at  me,  disbelieving.   “What  are  you  saying?”  he  asked.   “I’m  sorry,”  I  said  again.   “Louise.”    The  word  was  soft  in  the  quiet.   I  shook  my  head.    Tears  were  full  upon  me  now  and  I  feared  to  speak  lest  my  voice  break.   “Dear  one,”  he  said,  standing  and  coming  toward  me.    Now  there  were  tears  in  his  eyes.   “I’m  sorry,”  I  said  for  the  third  time.    It  was  all  I  could  think  to  say.    There  were  no  other  words   to  explain  my  feelings.   I  went  reluctantly  to  the  door,  opening  it.   “Please  go.”    The  words  came  out  as  a  whisper.    It  was  all  I  could  manage.   He  walked  slowly  toward  me,  a  bit  bewildered  and  very  much  wounded.    When  he  was  finally   beside  me,  he  wound  his  arms  around  my  waist  and  held  me  close.    He  gently  kissed  my  cheek  and  then   kept   his   face   against   mine   as   he   reached   for   my   necklace.     He   fondled   the   ring   with   one   hand,   a   tear   from  his  face  falling  on  my  chest.   “I’m  sorry  that  I  can’t  give  you  what  you  need,”  he  whispered.    “I’m  sorry  that  I  can’t  give  you   what  I  want  to  give  you.    I’m  sorry  that  I  can’t  give  you  what  you,  what  we,  deserve.”   Another   kiss   on   my   cheek   and   then   he   went   out,   the   tips   of   his   fingers   touching   me   until   the   very  last  moment.   I  shut  the  door  behind  him.  


February  21,  1790       I  sat  on  my  couch,  watching  the  snowfall  and  wondering  how  long  I’d  have  to  wait  before  I  could   leave  Vienna  for  good.    What  was  left  for  me  here?     We’d  finished  our  five-­‐performance  run  of  Cosi  on  February  11th.    My  dinner  invitation  with  the   Emperor  was  repealed  on  account  of  his  poor  health.    Eight  days  later,  yesterday,  he  passed  away.     There  had  been  talk  of  a  Cosi  revival  in  the  summer,  but  who  knew?    With  the  Emperor  gone,   who  knew  what  would  become  of  the  opera  troupe…     And   the   Mozarts…     Our   relationship   was   sterile,   the   only   way   it   could   be.     I   was   still   bleeding   internally  from  the  severing.     Still,  I  had  my  music.    But  how  far  could  that  take  me?    It  had  brought  me  here  in  the  first  place.     Could   it   keep   me   here?     Perhaps   it   would   call   me   away.     I’d   been   a   pilgrim   for   my   entire   life.     Why   had   I   assumed  that  I  could  make  a  home  here?    Vienna  was  beautiful,  bursting  with  music  and  good  people,   but  could  it  be  home?    Not  anymore.     There  was  a  knock  on  my  door.    I  rose  slowly  from  the  couch  to  unlock  it.     Vincenzo  and  Teresa  were  waiting  on  the  other  side,  smiling  amicably.    When  they  saw  me,  their   smiles  faded.     “Oh,  you’ve  heard,”  Teresa  said.    I  was  suddenly  in  a  warm  hug.     “He   was   a   good   man,”   Vincenzo   said,   speaking   of   the   Emperor.     “Some   people   still   insist   that   he   was  in  love  with  you.”     “Foolishness,”  I  said  to  him.     “It  is  not!”  Teresa  said.    “Now,  stop  this.    Smile  for  me.”     She  kissed  my  cheek  and  I  couldn’t  help  but  smile.     “That’s  better,”  Vincenzo  said.    “Now,  get  your  coat.    We’re  going  out  for  dinner.    We  have  much   to  celebrate.”     “What?”  I  asked.     “Haven’t  you  heard  the  good  news?”     I  shook  my  head.     “Nothing   is   happening   to   us,”   Vincenzo   said.     “Our   contracts   are   good.     The   troupe   is   staying   intact.    The  plans  for  the  revival  in  the  summer  are  still  on.    You  can  stay  in  Vienna.”     “I  think  that’s  reason  enough  to  be  happy,”  Teresa  said,  squeezing  my  hand.    “Come.    There’s   good  food  to  be  had.    Let’s  eat  and  be  happy.”     Their  words  and  smiles  chased  away  my  darker  thoughts.    I  smiled  at  them,  saying,     “Let  me  get  my  coat.”  


Finale   December  5,  1792   I  pulled  the  collar  of  my  coat  up  around  my  face  as  I  stood  outside  the  Teatro  La  Fenice.    The   opera   house   loomed   over   me   and   I   felt   small   beside   it.     As   I   waited,   I   played   my   favorite   game:   I   let   my   mind  float,  picking  up  words  through  free-­‐association.   La   Fenice.     The   phoenix.     “La   fenice   é   Dorabella!”     Dorabella   is   the   phoenix.     Cosi   fan   tutte.     Mozart.   I   couldn’t   think   of   anything   but   Mozart   today.     This   day   was   the   one-­‐year   anniversary   of   his   death.   Snatches   of   his   opera,   of   our   Cosi,   surfaced   from   my   memory:   Vincenzo   singing   “La   fenice   é   Dorabella!”       Dorabella  is  the  phoenix.   How  ironic.   I   left   Vienna   in   March   of   1791   when   my   contract   was   up.     Venice   wanted   me.     I   wanted   an   escape.    We  made  a  good  pair.   Vincenzo  sent  word  of  Mozart’s  death.    The  letter  stunned  me.    It  didn’t  seem  possible  that  such   life  could  be  snuffed  out.    I  sent  my  condolences  to  Constanze.   That  was  last  winter.   I  let  the  Venetian  air  pass  over  me,  comforting  me  with  its  familiar  smells  and  sounds.    I  closed   my  eyes,  falling  under  its  spell.    I  had  all  the  time  in  the  world.    I  was  simply  waiting…   “Louise!”   I  turned  toward  the  voice  and  smiled.   Michel  stepped  out  of  the  opera  house,  putting  keys  in  his  pocket  and  buttoning  his  coat  as  he   came  toward  me.    His  broad  strides  brought  him  quickly  to  my  side.   “Sorry  to  make  you  wait,”  he  said,  taking  my  hand.   “It’s   okay,”   I   said.     “I   don’t   mind   waiting   for   you.     I   waited   for   35   years.     I   can   handle   a   few   minutes.”   “I’m  glad.”   He  kissed  me.   “Like   you’d   go   home   without   me,”   he   continued.     “Silly   Louise.”     He   picked   up   my   hand,   the   left   one  with  my  mother’s  ring  on  it,  and,  shaking  it  significantly,  said,  “Does  this  mean  nothing  to  you?”   I  shook  my  head.   “Nothing  means  more.”   We  walked  along  the  streets  in  silence.    As  we  passed  my  favorite  café,  the  piano  music  wafted   out,  beckoning  me  in.    I  pulled  at  Michel’s  hand  and  he  willingly  came  along.   “Coffee?”  he  asked.   “Of  course,”  I  said.  


But  as  we  stood  in  the  entrance,  I  suddenly  recognized  what  the  pianist  was  playing.   I’d  heard  Mozart’s  Figaro  enough  times  to  know  that  tune.    It  was  Susanna’s  love  song  to  Figaro.     The  words  came  back  to  me:   “Deh  vieni,  non  tardar…”    Come,  don’t  delay.   The  music  evoked  long-­‐buried  emotions.    I  suddenly  missed  him  again.   “Let’s  go,”  I  said.   “What’s  the  matter,  dear  one?    We  just  got  here.”   “I’ve  changed  my  mind.    I  want  to  go  home.”   Michel  turned  around  without  questioning  me  and  we  left.    We  walked  home  and  I  didn’t  say  a   word.    Michel  didn’t  speak  either.   Once  we  were  safely  indoors  and  our  coats  were  put  away,  I  began  to  explain.   “Do  you  remember  what  day  this  is?”  I  asked.   “No,  I’m  sorry.”   “A  year  ago,  Mozart  passed  away.”   “Oh.    I  remember  when  he  died,”  Michel  said.    “You  were  so  upset.”   “It’s  hard  to  lose  loved  ones.”    The  third  anniversary  of  my  mother’s  death  had  been  only  a  few   weeks  ago.    But  this  was  different.    Not  better  or  worse,  just  different.   “It  is  hard,”  Michel  agreed.    “I’m  sorry.”    He  took  me  into  a  close  embrace.   Michel  was  my  husband,  but  I  would  never  tell  him  exactly  what  Mozart  meant  to  me.    What  his   music  did  to  me.   Michel  let  me  go,  asking,   “Do  you  still  want  coffee?    I  could  make  you  some.”   “That  would  be  nice.”   He   went   into   the   kitchen,   leaving   me   in   the   parlor.     I   sat   on   the   couch,   thinking   and   remembering.    A  few  minutes  later,  the  smells  of  coffee  came  from  the  kitchen  and  I  smiled.    I  put  away   my  reminiscing,  treasuring  the  simple  pleasures  of  the  commonplace.   I   was   finally   home.     My   roaming   was   over.     I’d   found   everything   I’d   wanted,   everything   I’d   waited  for.    I  could  finally  be  content.   I   went   over   to   my   clavier,   shedding   its   cover.     I   lifted   the   cover   and   sat,   looking   down   on   the   familiar  keys.    Slowly,  gently  I  played  the  beautiful,  sparkling  introduction  to  Dorabella  and  Fiordiligi’s   first  duet.    Then  I  began  to  sing  Fiordiligi’s  opening  line:   “Ah  guarda  sorella,  se  bocca  piu  bella,  se  aspetto  piu  nobile  si  puo  ritrorar…”   The  light  of  Mozart’s  music  illuminated  my  soul  and  I  knew  that  he  could  never  completely  leave   me.  


September 2013