Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Composing for Opera Bob
It started when Janet asked me to compose some humorous arias and ensembles for the opera bob performances. Comedy interests me and there is not a lot of comedy in the operatic repertoire at least not a lot of roll in the aisle kind of humor. This kind of thing, composing in another composers style and humorously, has been done before; by Anna Russell, PDQ Bach, and of course Victor Borge.
So for me I had to do something different, at least for myself.
My point was to be as authentic as possible and create the most beautiful unadorned melodies I could on which the comedy could hang. Oh yes I've already composed 3 operas and spent years studying the repertoire, going to the Met weekly for 3 -4 years and my misspent youth studying Drama at the Neighborhood Playhouse. I had just finished a serious opera The Snows of Kilimanjaro, based on the Hemingway short story after 10 years so I was in the mood for funny. Oh, my Father was a opera singer who sang on Broadway in the original Carousel and Brigadoon. I loved listening to him sing. Well I married a singer.
Theatrical music seems to be in my blood.
Most important to me is to set the words so they can be understood. The scansion exact, the syllables in the just right place. Then the styles had to be realized, and one thing I learned is that tonality needs no artifice and no decoration to make its point.
Only 2 of my 6 works made it to the final show and some cuts were needed. It is satisfying to be in the game. So we add measures here and cut there. That life in the theater. My 2 arias are Character pieces. This fits in with the Opera Bob sensibility I think. The Rossini aria was inspired by the MN Opera's La donna del lago. It was my first musical joke but shortened by Will to give you the good parts! The Puccini, well, was just because.
Of course it was a pleasure to compose for such wonderful and contrasting voices. Opera Bob's artists have a special quality.
That is: they create roles not just inhabit them.
For some of you who know my other work you might be surprised that I did this. Yet for me art must be composer directed.
Then the music will always ring true.
Dr. Phil Fried