Composer’s Log: Nov. 27, 2017

My goal for the past week was to complete a draft of the vocal lines for the entire opera, and I am very happy to report that I now have all of the vocal music down on paper!  Kendra and I have been making some adjustments to the text as we go, and those have been incorporated as well.  Most deal with improving flow and comprehension of the story, as well as some small wording changes to better fit the music.  I’ll be working on completing the accompaniment this week and then revising everything.

The new material I wrote this week includes an aria where Marie remembers trips to the country as a teenager.  I shared a snippet on social media earlier in the week and am including a larger excerpt as a score video here.

This music is extremely nostalgic.  The first stanza introduces the audience to these childhood trips, while the second takes Marie into her memories (albeit very briefly).  That second stanza features a bright waltz that is clearly tonal and centered on Marie’s note of B-flat.  I have been going back and forth about whether it is too diatonic given the rest of the opera, but I’ll see how I feel once I complete the accompaniment and begin making revisions.  The third stanza (not included in the video) brings Marie back to the present as she assesses the beach where she and Irene are vacationing.

When I first received the libretto (and for a while after), I was a little uncertain of the role of this passage in the opera as a whole.  After writing the music, I think I have come up with a few reasons why this aria is important.  First (and most obviously), it is one of the few places where Marie seems to let her hair down and relax.  Second, the aria provides an interesting point of comparison between Marie as she is when the opera takes place, as she was in her life with Pierre, and as a young woman before she met Pierre and dedicated her life to science.  Lastly, this aria is the first instance where Marie slips into her recollections of the past.  Her tendency to get lost in memories allows for the extended scene with her deceased husband in the middle of the opera.  It’s funny how it was only after writing the music that I really was able to fully understand the importance of this text!