Danse Russe, the backstage comedy about the making of The Rite of Spring on which Paul Moravec and I have been working for the past few months, is done. I signed off on the piano-vocal score over the weekend, and Paul made his final corrections and shipped the finished product off to his publishers yesterday. It is now going out to the members of the cast of the first production of our second opera, which opens in Philadelphia on April 28. All that remains for Paul to do (and it is, lest we forget, a big “all”) is finish orchestrating the score, a back-breaking job in which I play no part. My job is pretty much over until the show goes into rehearsal next month.
I have to admit that I don’t feel quite as excited as I did when we delivered the finished score of The Letter to the Santa Fe Opera. This is mostly because Danse Russe is, after all, our second opera. It’s not that we’re jaded–writing a comic opera is a very different proposition from writing an opera noir–but having been around the track once, we already knew which way to go to get to the finish line.
Almost as important, though, is the fact that my plate is piled high with work these days. In addition to wrapping up Danse Russe, I’ve been working on the first draft of my Duke Ellington biography and directing the first staged reading of Satchmo at the Waldorf, my first play. That’s a lot of firsts in a row, and when you factor in the fact that I knock out a minimum of six columns for The Wall Street Journal and write a twenty-five-hundred-word essay for Commentary each month, it means that I’m pretty damned busy.
So no, I didn’t break the neck of a bottle of champagne yesterday, nor do I plan to do so today. Instead, I’ll be working on a pile on expense reports, an indispensable part of the life of a peripatetic drama critic, and wishing I were in Winter Park with Mrs. T. Tomorrow I’ll present a literary award (about which more after it happens) and attend a preview of the Broadway revival of That Championship Season, and on Thursday I’ll fly back down to Orlando and my beloved spouse.
There’s a part of you always standing by,
Mapping out the sky,
Finishing a hat…
Starting on a hat…
Finishing a hat…
Look, I made a hat…
Where there never was a hat.
And that’s that. For today, anyway.
UPDATE: A friend writes:
It comes with the artistic temperament. Wagner said, after Die Walküre, “Ach, just more verdammte gods…maybe I’ll burn them all!” Don’t forget to feel happy and proud of yourself. All the things in the pipeline should never distract from any one of them.
That’s good advice from a good friend.