June 15, 2010
TT: Gentlemen, start your engines
Paul Moravec and I are now at work on our second opera--but don't call it that!
The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, which gets underway on April 1, 2011, is a citywide venture that will encompass the premieres of thirty-one works intended to capture "the inventive, no-holds-barred spirit of Paris: 1910-1920, the inspiration and theme of the 25-day festival." Center City Opera Theater is contributing to the festivities with a program that will pair Renard, a rarely produced one-act chamber opera composed in 1916 by Igor Stravinsky, with a new work written for the same performing forces as Renard, four male singers (two tenors, a baritone, and a bass-baritone) and a small instrumental ensemble.
Andrew Kurtz, who runs Center City Opera, invited Paul and me to write a companion piece to Renard. I came up with the idea of a backstage farce about the creation of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. The title is Danse Russe. The four characters, whose real-life models are pictured above, are:
• Sergei Diaghilev, the founder of the Ballets Russes, who commissioned The Rite of Spring
• Vaslav Nijinsky, Diaghilev's lover and star dancer, who choreographed the ballet
• Pierre Monteux, who conducted the first performance
• Stravinsky himself
Unlike The Letter, our previous collaboration, Danse Russe is a knockabout comedy with spoken dialogue. We're calling it a "vaudeville," and we expect it to play more like a musical than an opera. I finished the first draft of the libretto three weeks ago, and Paul started writing the music last week.
We open in Philadelphia on April 15--and yes, I'll be blogging with steadily increasing frequency about the making of Danse Russe between now and then.
More as it happens.
Posted June 15, 2010 7:46 PM