Composer’s Log: July 24, 2017

It’s been a busy week!  I’ve almost finished a full draft of the sequence between Marie and Pierre, which spans about 1/3 of the opera.  This scene takes place in Marie’s memory or imagination, and includes the following:

  • a solo for Marie explaining how she and Pierre met
  • a duet between the two focusing on their life together
  • Pierre’s feature aria about the wonders of radium
  • a second duet between Marie and Pierre about what came after winning the Nobel Prize
  • an aria where Marie relives the shock of Pierre’s death

As I described in last week’s post, I have been working on adding accompaniments and also sketching out vocal lines for new sections of the opera.  I’ve got a fairly clear list of the main musical motives in the piece, some of which I’ve shared in previous posts (especially this one about Pierre’s radium aria).  I’d like to share another one here:

This video shows a snippet from Marie and Pierre’s first duet, and it has some of my favorite lines from the libretto.  The words are little tough to read in the YouTube file, so I am printing them here:

We are sometime-slaves of our affections,
of the beliefs of those we love,
And we must make allowances,
neither too many nor too few.

The melody Marie and Pierre sing to those words weaves together a couple main motives—a rising figure associated with love (typically a major second followed by a large leap) and the descending minor thirds and half-steps from Pierre’s “violent, vile would” motive.  The result is an important theme in the opera, returning in full in the piano (which will eventually be the instrumental ensemble) just after Marie recalls Pierre’s death.  The moment where the theme returns is followed by a variation sung by Marie alone (with different text) to close the sequence.

That brings us to where I currently am in setting the libretto.  The next bit transitions back to the present where Marie recounts to her daughter Irene how she struggled to adapt to life without Pierre.  I haven’t decided yet if I want to keep working sequentially or if I want to switch focus to another important spot (most likely Irene’s aria).  Look out for another update or social media teaser if you can’t wait to know what I’m going to tackle next. 😉