Today I had the excellent opportunity to present TWO short opera scenes through the Lyric Opera of Kansas City's Words + Music program, headed by Linda Ade Brand. The collaboration is between the LOKC, Coterie Theater's Young Playwrites Roundtable, and the UMKC Conservatory of Music's composition department. Last year, I had one scene, Collection!, which was well recovered by John Corigliano and Mark Adamo.
This year, the masterclass was led by Susan and Ed Kander, vets of the LOKC and Ed being one of the co-founders of the organization. I had the unique chance to present two scenes, Tony's Birthday, with text by Analiese Schroeder, and Nighttime, with text by Meredith McKnight. Both were vastly difference in mood and genre, and that's why I picked them. They showed the extremes of my composition style: the serious and the irreverent.
Tony's Birthday is about a squire, Stephen, who is trying to teach his liege, Prince Tony, who just turned 18, how to woo a maiden to be his wife. After a few failed attempts and a bad example on behalf of the squire, they go to the square to find other women to test Prince Tony's skills on. Susan pointed out that the scene didn't feel over and Analiese and I agreed, so we will be collaborating on a Tony, Part II.
Nighttime, the second scene I wrote, deals with two people, or whatever they are (Angsty young adults? A person and their split personality? Spirits? Angels? Parallel Universal Entities? All were suggestions by various people involved!). The scene opens with the character, simply referred to as Not Bold in the libretto, smoking and her friend, Bold, joins her, drunk. They talk about troubles at the apartment and about how Bold has insomnia and how Not Bold feels guilty about some past, or current, troubles. After a reconciliation, they just muse at the starry sky and end with a line found in the stage directions that we had to include, "The world has turned out to be enough."
The scene was so ethereal and mysterious that I had to get my hands on it and set it. We chose Countertenor (me) and Soprano (LaTeesha Jackson) to sing the roles of Bold and Not Bold, who were simply identified as Boy and Girl in the score. Susan loved the pieces and, in particular, the musical gestures and structure I chose.
Overall, I was pleased and very honored by the praise and critique I received. I cannot wait to perform it at the Coterie May 1st, then at the UMKC Composers Workshop and then finally the 2016 KC Fringe Festival. But, for now, I'm celebrating with a good book, some good tv, and some wholly deserved gelato. 🎹🎬🍦📖