Composer’s Log: Aug. 7, 2017

I’ve been having a great time working with students at the Hartt Community Division Young Composers Project Summer Edition this week, but between that and other life/work stuff, I have been a bit stalled on the opera. While I haven’t had much time to sit down and do significant work, ideas have been floating around in my head and starting to coalesce, so the week wasn’t a complete loss.

One of the things that has been gestating is Marie’s aria where she recounts Pierre’s death.  In this scene, there’s a section of the libretto that becomes very fragmented in order to show Marie’s extreme emotional distress. I am including it here to give you an idea what I mean:

and when he stepped out
stepped out—
exhausted
and ill he stepped out
into the street
into the
into the rue Dauphine
he slipped
under
away
he slipped
under
he slipped
he slipped
a truck
away
a
catastrophe.

I spent a long time figuring out how to approach this. It’s an intense moment, and all of the fragmentation and repetition seemed to work against creating any sort of sweeping through line. Ultimately what I ended up doing was creating a prototype for the line as if it had come out all in one cohesive sentence.

Admittedly, it’s a bit flat and unemotional in this prototype version, but that gave me a starting point for creating the actual music. I took that prototype and chopped it up, adjusting pitches and rhythms to serve the overall shape of the line.

It’s still in progress, and I am debating just how much accompaniment (if any) this moment will need—but you can get a sense of how the prototype has been expanded to fit the libretto.

I’ll be working on finishing up a draft of this section, and am looking forward to getting back into a regular routine of working on the opera. In other news, Kendra and I just got off a Skype call with another wonderful collaborator to plan additional Marie Curie activities in 2018-19. We can’t share details yet—sorry!—but when we can, we will publicize them here.

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