Rhode Island-based composer Steven Jobe hopes to fund the construction of a dozen small-scale, wheel-fiddle type instruments called Shriekers. Steve is creating a new opera, "The Legend of the Fairy Melusine," and the compelling droning effects of these types of instrument are a central part of the sound world he is creating for this new opera. And a most extraordinary effect will result from these Shriekers -- a dozen! -- employed in the performance.
To design and make the Shriekers, Steve is collaborating with RI-based musician, Bob Asprinio. Bob is a designer and builder of almost anything the gig might demand; now he is engaged in making the Shriekers, and it's very exciting!
Please support the Shrieker project of the "The Legend of the Fairy Melusine." We're looking for $1500, which breaks down to $300 for materials and $1200 as an artist fee for Bob Asprinio.
"The Legend of the Fairy Melusine: an Opera Work in Progress"
Steve's approach to the Melusine story is loosely based on the Roman de Mélusine by Jean d'Arras (late 14th c.) which is itself derived from European folktales. The d'Arras version is an epic tale, recounting the marriage of the fairy Melusine to the mortal Raimondin as well as the adventures of their various offspring, most of whom go off to fight in the Crusades.
Steve's telling of the story, in five acts, focuses almost entirely on the relationship between Melusine and Raimondin wherein, amid all manner of deception, illusion and delusion, they endeavor to know and understand each other. To make an opera of all this, Steve is working in collaboration with director/dramaturge Vanessa Gilbert to develop an artistic vocabulary that merges music and media.
"The Legend" continues May 21st and 22nd, 2011
The next installment of the "Melusine" work-in-progress will be May 21st (8 pm) and 22nd (2 and 7 pm) at the Blackstone River Theatre in Cumberland RI (www.riverfolk.org). The program will consist of six selections from the opera, staged by director Vanessa Gilbert, who will be bringing an exciting video component into play as part to the staging. Soprano Julia Steinbok will sing the role of Melusine while tenor Fredric Scheff will sing the role of Raimondin.
The last selection on the program is entitled, "Caccia". This is a big chase scene where the hero pursues the wild boar. For this piece, Steve will emply all of the instruments at his disposal, including the hurdy-gurdies -- four different types! Along with the Shriekers these include: the traditional hurdy-gurdy, the Drone Machine and The Bosch Hurdy-Gurdy. The core component of the wheeled fiddle is a crank that turns a wheel which vibrates strings. This mechanism can create a surprising variety of compelling musical effects from drones to rhythms to melodies and harmonies. The combination of different types and sizes of these instruments presents myriad musical possibilities while at the same time furnishing a striking visual image: music machines!
The Shriekers are based on a design used by the Bread and Puppet Theater (www.breadandpuppet.org/) in the late 1980s. Their design, made from olive oil cans, was intended as an exotic sound effect for outdoor theatre. But Steve and Bob believe that there are unexplored musical possibilities. In the "Melusine" performance, the instruments will be used as a true, pitched instruments, contributing a new dynamic to a carefully balanced musical texture. The denouement of the show -- the end of "Caccia" -- is imagined as the Entrance of the Shriekers! It will a moment both musically and visually breathtaking; backers of the Shriekers for "Melusine" project are invited to take part -- see Rewards.
- (44 days)