Thursday, May 28, 2009

Workshop #4 Update

A few weeks ago, during the performance run of Salome, we held the fourth workshop – and second music workshop – for our new, commissioned opera, Lillian Alling.

It was an exciting week, as composer John Estacio brought lots of new music to the rehearsal hall. Librettist John Murrell, stage director and dramaturge Kelly Robinson and music dramaturge Les Dala, worked with a group of singers and a pianist all day everyday probing and refining. Every evening John Estacio returned to his rooms and wrote and re-wrote and refined, bringing yet more new music to the rehearsal hall each morning!

It is an intense and energetic and exciting process!

I am a big fan of Estacio’s music. Another time I’ll go into greater detail as to why. For now, let me say that his lush sound and full bodied vocal writing, which will be amply on display throughout Lillian, is punctuated by some very different music written to give us an exact aural picture of place and time. One example is the “Tin Pan Alley-esque” ensemble for a group of Brooklyn boys circa 1920s, singing John’s “Polly from Poughkeepsie,” as they “take notice of Lillian and begin to catcall and make other bad-boy noises as they circle around… (Murrell’s description of the scene).

Another example of Estacio’s aural postcard from another time and place is the music he has written for a raucous barn dance on the Norwegian farm in North Dakota that Lillian visits on her way from New York to British Columbia. During her brief time there she meets young Kristian who – reluctantly – sends her on toward BC to meet her fiancé.

We’ll put a bit of the music from these two scenes on this site for your enjoyment. Check back soon.

~Jim Wright, General Director