Reorchestrating

Jeremy is in the midst of reorchestrating our opera, THE LONG WALK, in preparation for its second outing in Utah this coming March. That's a lot of links in one sentence, but all worthy ones. Orchestrating is an intricate business that demands an intrepid soul at its helm. Especially these days, when the world seems to be spinning out of control all around us. To my eye, orchestrating is a little like building Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia. The composer erects a multifarious, visionary structure out of an endless web of detail. The work is so complex, days can be spent on a minute of music. When a new scene arrives in my inbox, I print out the score and sit down to listen and read along, attempting to make sense of 18 simultaneous lines of information all stacked one on top of the other. Each page goes flying by in a flash. After reading a score I feel somehow smarter, as if I've exercised muscles in my brain I didn't know I had. In other words, I am in awe of what Jeremy is doing.

Especially because nobody asked him to do it. He took it upon himself. Although the reviews were glowing, and the opera's overarching musico-dramatic gestus feels to my eye and ear, after seeing it with an audience,  pretty rock solid, Jeremy felt he needed more time to carve out the sonic world he has always heard for our adaptation of Brian Castner's memoir of a soldier's return home—a roller-coaster of a tale told through the lens of a fractured mind yearning to be whole again.

Today's new opera development world can be glacial in its forward movement, but more often than not, I have learned, it is a by-the-seat-of-your-pants wild ride towards near-impossible deadlines. Which is good because the work happens. It gets done. And not so good in that, at least where composing is concerned, there is no way to consider the architectonics of every moment. Not if you're going to meet your deadline, that is. But Jeremy has taken the matter into his own hands, intrepid soul that he is. He's been spending the last handful of months expanding and tightening, rendering harrowing and heartbreaking sound worlds that I know from having heard them—via a computer simulation, that is—make the work even stronger than it was. And no one's paying him to do this. That new parts must be made, at a considerable expense, is just one of the challenges of this endeavor.

Here are our three boys from the world-premiere cast at Opera Saratoga (none of which would have come about if it weren't for American Lyric Theater, who commissioned us and developed the opera in the first place). These boys were the best. Soon after the production, Bobby ended up singing a capella for the pope, and going viral the way you do. After singing Pie Jesu for the pontiff with five minutes notice, Bobby handed Pope Francis a token, a prized rock from Antarctica. I imagine the pope treasures that rock. I treasure having had the chance to work with Bobby. And then there's Henry, who is standing fierce beside him—a natural-born director. And Erich, the tallest of the lot, grown taller by now, who seems to be taking over the musical-theater world, with a little bel canto thrown in for good measure.

The three boys are where it's at. Inspired by Mozart's three boys in The Magic Flute, an operatic precursor from a not so distant past, they are the future. I'm hoping as hard as I can that theirs is as full of promise and possibility as ours has been up til now.