Wednesday, January 12, 2011

insert clever title here

i haven't blogged in several days. there is a general feeling of malaise over things right now. part of that is amsterdam's spurious relationship with sunlight. i do love it here, but with the sun not appearing until 9am and disappearing at 4pm, it makes it hard to do anything.

of course there is also the tragedy in times like that making art, and even more blogging about it, seems a bit trivial. i had a wonderful lunch with nicholas mansfield yesterday (artistic administrator of the nationale reisopera) and he said he felt we was good at his job because he realized that what he did (what we do) isn't that important in the big scheme of things. it was a strange thing to hear, one is so used to hearing artists expound on the ultimate importance of art, even if the causality to explain that importance is hidden in enigmatic ways. i'm not sure i agree with him, i do think making opera is deeply important, but i also struggle to understand how it stands up against politics, when politics has the power to so change the lives of people that will never see an opera.

anyway, didn't feel much like writing, and felt very angry about the mechanization of politics, of action, of journalism, of media. it all seems like such a performance now. a great curtain of irony has descended, nothing is true, words have no meaning, everything is now reading between the lines.

that thought connects with the work i've been doing lately on absurdism and poulenc's "la voix humaine". i never quite realized how much until this week. i have a suspicion, however true or not, that poulenc was directly influenced by camus in writing it. i thinke even cocteau did not entirely intend it as a melodramatic naturalistic work. i think there is an entirely different reading, an absurdist reading, to the piece. ultimately, and i haven't quite figured out how to put this into words, i think it is about man's seperation from the fantasy of life, how the viel of ojective "meaning" falls away, how painful and necessary that process is, how alone man then realizes he is, and ultimately about the decision to live or die. camus says that the central philosophical question of life is suicide, and i think "la voix humaine" is also about this question. at least for me.

mostly i've been reading and constructing that idea. i also have to go to milan next week and present a concept for rossini's "aureliano in palmira", which i have in my head, but need to figure out how to articulate effectively on paper and orally.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

how to get restarted...

i'm finding it difficult to restart after the holidays. yesterday was, in some terms, very productive...but it all ended up revolving around releases, interviews, blah, blah, blah. anne midgette did a nice piece in the post (here) about the end of that enterprise, and "lost in the stars" was saved for our final production may (now i need to get cracking on it!).

but now on to all the other projects. i'm wrapped on in "aureliano in palmira", which will probably be the biggest project i've ever done. it will also be new territory for me (pseudo-comedy...political satire). i have to admit the music is really growing on me. i go to milan in a couple weeks to meet with the conductor and the designer. that is also a new and exciting experience. but at the same time i have gonzales cantata opening in a month. i did it last year at bard, but need to relearn it. it is a tremendous piece and i hope to post more about it. i had forgotten how much i like it...witty, funny, poignant, smart...everything opera should be. but no rest for weary, right on the heels of that is la voix humaine which needs a lot of work. it is late cocteau, so post surealist, but i want to find a way to return to some of the absurdist elements and escape the typical damaged woman melodrama. we'll see... (that seems to be my moto lately).

Saturday, January 1, 2011


I do find a guilty pleasure in the order of numbers...

Just to announce a fantastic, if slightly blurry, New Years Eve 2010 with the divine soprano Rebecca Duren vising us in little ol'Amsterdam. We made visits to Mankind, the house of Max von Egmond and Jean Francois Beauchais, and finally to Sandy Olivers court, where we rang in the new year on the Rembrandt Plien. Somehow finding our way home and crashing to a very late morning. Now I think a little vondel in the vondelpark.