Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up is an 80 minute opera consisting of a prologue, six scenes and an epilogue. The libretto is by Royce Vavrek after a short story by Karen Russell. It was recorded after a production at Opera Omaha in 2018. One might perhaps expect an opera about homesteading in Nebraska to be a worthy piece of uplifting Americana but nothing could be further from the truth here. The Prologue, it’s true, is based on a 19th century popular song Uncle Sam’s Farm which appears to offer the American Dream to all comers but after that we get a surrealistic tale of drought, despair, drinking and death all based on the search for an elusive glass window that will allow the Zegner family to “prove up” and gain title to their land under the 1862 Homestead Act. What then, of the American Dream?
Tag Archives: international contemporary ensemble
Dolce la morte
Suzanne Farrin’s Dolce la morte sets poems by Michelangelo inspired by his relationship with Tommaso de’ Cavalieri dealing with the joy and complexity of desire and spiritual fulfillment. They are really intense poems and Farrin has scored them for counter tenor and seven piece chamber ensemble. The music is complex and intriguing. The vocal line consists mainly of long, high legato lines that play around with pitch in a variety of ways. The instrumental accompaniment is often also quite high and somewhat drone like with percussive insertions and places where the strings sound uncannily like another voice. It’s haunting and quite disturbing and definitely the sort of music one doesn’t fully “get” on first hearing but which makes one want to come back to it.