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May 9, 2013

TT: Long distance, please

Paul Moravec, my operatic collaborator, is currently in residence at the American Academy in Rome. He's writing the score of The King's Man, our third opera, which opens in Louisville in October.

558070_334873983236914_114448523_n.jpgAs for me, I've been tearing around America ever since the Broadway season ended--but not this week. Mrs. T, spotting four dark days on my calendar, suggested that we might want to spend them taking a work-free mini-vacation at Ecce Bed and Breakfast, our beloved and indispensable Delaware River retreat. That sounded good to me, so we drove to Ecce on Monday and proceeded to do...nothing. Lots of nothing. We slept late, ate tasty breakfasts, sat in the sun, read in the afternoons, and watched movies at night (among them The Ladykillers, The Man in the White Suit, and Citizen Kane).

All that relaxation notwithstanding, Paul and I did manage to cross paths--in cyberspace. I spent most of yesterday afternoon revising the libretto of The King's Man, then e-mailing new text to Rome for him to set. He e-mailed the music back to me as soon as he finished composing it. At one point we were working in something not far removed from real time.

Was I breaking my solemn promise not to work during our mini-vacation? I think not, and Mrs. T agrees. Revision is pleasurable puttering. Drafting is work--sometimes hard, sometimes less so, but ever and always work. Revising, by contrast, is mostly pure fun, like solving a wonderfully complex puzzle. Writing a first draft sometimes feels like putting together a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces are blank.

So I enjoyed myself yesterday, very much so, not least because I was thoroughly bemused by the fact that I was spending the day in close harness with someone who was halfway around the world from me. (Somehow I doubt that Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal did it that way.) Yet I was glad to wrap up my puttering, shoot a new draft of The King's Man off to Rome, and resume the no less satisfying "job" of listening to the peaceful sound of rain falling on Ecce's sturdy roof.

We're still at Ecce, by the way, and utterly happy to be. You can never spend enough time doing nothing.

* * *

Waylon Jennings sings "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way" at the Grand Ole Opry in 1978:

Posted May 9, 2013 12:00 AM

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