Tim L said the other day that we should approach BP for funding the opera. They’ve been spending billions, he said, recovering their image. So what if we mock big oil, we’re also mocking (gently) the green movement. I tried to locate someone to contact on their site, which is immense. They have a page “Environment and Society,” but there were mostly school projects and community outreach.

I need funding. Started doing more copyediting, and added a page here for those who’re interested. Academic music writing is my specialty, but should add that I’m also working on a women’s history topic (Anna Rosenberg, who worked with Harry Truman’s defense secretary–the famous Marshall). Since knowledge breadth expands to politics, literature, film, mythology, I should somehow address those editing markets.

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Getting there

My last day in F.H. and on the last aria for Eileen. Didn’t get to the finale, but that’s a reprise anyway. And the tense moments leading up to the bomb are only slightly sketched, but that’s only a minute or two of music. I don’t know what came over me–maybe it was Figaro listening–but suddenly I’m totally making fun of the bomb thing with a big ensemble in the style of Mozart/Rossini, with wrong-note harmonies to edge it up. Boy, this piece is going to be a real hodgepodge. But on the good side, it shows everything I can do, and hope to integrate all the different styles.

I’ve been thinking about the instrumentation. Gone thru the entire thing in my head a few times… I’ve made string 4tet indispensible, tpt and horn important, but can’t decide if I should keep clarinet, since I could use the bass cl as a bassoon-type wind, doubling on the E-flat for some biting high notes up to F-sharp above high C (concert). Need a little pungent 4tet for the choir/quartet that sings all these rather inane ditties. I’ve set them in a Stravinskyan way thinking of a few winds and a few brass. Oboe would be good there, but don’t really need the oboe elsewhere. Or rather, it doesn’t seem versatile enough. But maybe I’m wrong about that.

So stg 4tet, tpt, horn, bass/Bb/Eb clar, piano, bass…well, and it’d be nice to have drums in one of the arias, but can do without for this production. And one reggae-influenced groove for the party that doesn’t last long before morphing into a related rhythm (from a Chopin Scherzo or Ballade–can’t remember the exact piece). I’d like to make a different sort of sound for the reggae thing anyway, with strings, or strings and another instrument.

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I played thru what I’ve been working on these past few weeks, and oy, does it sound distorted and weird. Not sure that’s the worst thing, but it’s defnitely not my clearest writing. Maybe I’ll take it apart for strands that are good, discard some of the things that don’t work, find some others that might. If Dom hadn’t written all these parts in that refer back…well, he gives the option of which ones I’d like to reprise, but even as I have several that work together, they don’t all work together. And once you try to fit things that don’t naturally fit, there’s trouble. Better to start with smaller motives? The thing has to move somewhere as a unit, which can be done a few different ways, although the one I’ve been trying seems mechanical at the moment. Want to get back to the emotion — anxiety, fear, frustration…

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Of course, it was going to be difficult to get all these themes to work together… And it’s proving to be an exercise of great frustration. Fortunately, things do settle into something and after nearly a week of futzing, writing, sorting, rewriting, a shape is forming. I think I could do this several times over and still find other ways.

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The push

I’ve gotten to that point in the opera now where things are going to build up, starting at a pretty intense mood. Don W. today told me about good models for including all my voices/characters–it’s really an octet with the chorus. Wagner’s Meistersinger, even his Flying Dutchman, Stravinsky, Mozart, of course. I’m hoping that some of the voices I’m hearing in combination now, the previous worries and sentiments from the characters that led up to this point, will make ironic comments on one another when juxtaposed. Something that can give a picture of how they all interact and give the audience some pleasure seeing their favorite moments or character again. The choir/quartet is asking the filmstar for a speech engagement to raise funds for them, the filmstar is asking himself what he’s ever done for anyone, the green VIP is wishing she’d never had this party, her ex-boyfriend, the greenwash corporate sell-out, is nursing his wounds at getting rejected by both of the latter, and the eco-warrior is trying to psych herself into her mission to detonate a bomb. Now, if I can work their anxiety from its parts into some sort of intensely nerve-wracking music drama…

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Writing the opera

I’m over halfway through Beautiful Creatures, working on Hank’s big Superman aria. Well, not so big; I’ve had to ask Dominic for more lyrics. He’s camping so I came up with some on my own, either to use as place holders, or maybe ultimately to use. I’ve set them a few different ways now, channeling in images/impressions of different movie stars to help me get an idea of the character. After talking to my friend Paul I set one tonight in a kind of rock beat, as if Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise were singing. I think of them as not-so-deep stars. I had thought maybe Alec Baldwin or George Clooney. Anyway, they’re none of them making this easier for me. And Hank’s character was already Sinatra-flavored, so really should stick with that sound, not zoom off into rock genre mid-character. Decided against it — hope Dom comes back tomorrow and saves the day, i.e. gets me some more ideas/lyrics and perhaps I find something suitable.

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