I first directed John Guare's one-act, The Loveliest Afternoon of the Year, as a junior in high school, and never lost my fascination for the absurdity, profundity, and richness of this dark comedy. Basically, there are two characters: HE and SHE. They meet spontaneously in some park (presumably central park in New York City) and embark on a strange love affair--HE tells SHE all sorts of bizarre stories, and SHE finds them amusing, but never knows whether or not to take HE seriously. HE has a wife, MAUD, who's role in both the play and the opera I won't give away here!
I always had the piece in mind as possible libretto for an opera.
Then, I had the pleasure of meeting a group of extremely inspirational musicians and friends-- Laura Soto-Bayomi, Josh Quinn, and Patrick Dean Shelton. I wanted to write something for them that expressed my gratefulness for their artistry, their singing, and their commitment to challenges, so I thought, what better opportunity to bring this libretto to life with these exceptional vocalists? I began composing in May 2012 as soon as I got permission to adapt the text from Mr. Guare, who expressed excitement for the project. Soon, Alex Zhu became involved as the rehearsal pianist. A talented orchestral pianist as well as a sensitive soloist, he's brought invaluable insight into the production as well. Here are some pictures of us rehearsing (you can meet the cast and hear what they have to say about the project below!):
But there were some things I wanted to add to Mr. Guare's play: first of all, puppets. Puppets, however, necessitate puppeteers. I decided that they should not be classical singers, but rather, "highly enthusiastic female vocalists" that join in for the ride every so often. Again, two dear friends were recruited, the talented visual artist and jazz vocalist, Sami Stevens and violin virtuouso Diamanda La-Berge Dramm. Here they are (sans puppets):
The chamber orchestra, consisting of 17 players, to be conducted by Matthew Szymanski, is also made up of friends very dear to me that I've made over the past four years as a student at New England Conservatory.
The production of this opera is not only the culmination of long hours composing, long hours rehearsing, and long hours envisioning the final product, but a culmination of friendships and musical collaborations that have deeply impacted me over the years.
The premier date is set, the players are set, the hall is booked, and the posters are made. I am asking for your support to cover recording costs, basic set and prop pieces, and promotional costs. Most importantly, I want to give something back to the players that have given me so much throughout this rehearsal process, and so we can treat this as a professional experience as much as a collaboration amongst colleagues. I firmly believe that musicians--even close friends--should be treated respectfully and paid for their efforts, but I need your help to do this!
Thank you so much for your support!
Meet the cast:
Risks and challenges
The major risks and challenges of this project have already been surpassed--first, the piece is composed (with a double-bar line and all!). Second, the rehearsal process is well under way. Third, and chamber orchestra already has their parts, and is set to rehearse with the vocalists at the beginning of May. Fourth, the logistics are largely complete: the hall is booked, the lighting is arranged, the posters are made, rehearsal space has been arranged.
The main challenge will be the usual stress that comes with the final weeks of production--the last minute unexpected elements of theater and live art-making that we deal with every day as performers (or composers). I am excited to take on this challenge!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (26 days)