Greetings from the front lines! The premiere of David Jackson‘s song-cycle MODEL LOVE is a mere two weeks away. As you can imagine, we Model Lovers have been hard at work for some time preparing this piece for its debut at the Kaplan Penthouse on October 2nd. Much of that preparation was done in isolation: days and nights spent learning vocal lines, pulling apart texts, counting complex rhythms (insert this mezzo’s gratitude for the creators of the visual metronome who helped restore my ability to learn polyrhythms), and (in one instance earlier this week) memorizing a trio while on the elliptical machine at the gym! Last night was therefore a particularly gratifying moment, as the cast gathered for our first staging rehearsal.
“There is miracle in personality” sings our tenor, Jeremy Little, in the cycle’s opening number. It is a song about the mystery of attraction, an attempt to explain that unmistakable spark that arises in a moment and draws us inexorably to another person. Getting these songs up on their feet last night, I felt something of that magic: how satisfying it was to finally begin physicalizing together what had previously only existed as a collection of notes and words in my mind! Questions I’ve had for weeks began to be answered, as we three fumbled and found our way, putting flesh on Henry Normal’s heady texts and creating emotional connections for ourselves under the expert guidance of our director, Crystal Manich.
There was something of this sensation when we came together for our first musical run-through a few weeks ago: we all remarked how much easier the music became when we could hear and play off of each other. What pleasure there was in feeling the sound gel and savoring those delicious moments of dissonance that pepper David’s vocal writing! With each successive rehearsal, we add a new layer, the piece makes more sense, and I am increasingly excited to see where we will wind up.
Tomorrow we’re in for another treat as we sit in on the first orchestra rehearsal: so many new colors and textures to enjoy! “The enticement of hollows and shadows” indeed … how lucky we are to go exploring in their depths!
More to come soon…
On Sunday, October 2, 4pm and 7:30pm, American Opera Projects will present the world premiere of Model Love, a humorous staged song-cycle about contemporary relationships with jazz and rock elements by composer J. David Jackson based on texts by British comedian Henry Normal, and the one-act opera monodrama Nora, In the Great Outdoors, music by Daniel Felsenfeld and libretto by Will Eno, that continues the final scene of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House moments after Nora abandons her family. The event will be held at Lincoln Center’s Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse. Tickets are $25, $50 for VIP reserve seating, available at www.operaprojects.org.
“Fun, energetic and curious song cycle interested in M-M-W threesome. R U what I M looking 4?” Model Love is a 30-minute song cycle fusing contemporary art song with blues, jazz ,and rock set for three singers (mezzo-soprano Rosalie Sullivan, baritone Gregory Gerbrandt, and tenor Jeremy Little) chamber orchestra and rock band. Based on texts from Nude Modelling for the Afterlife by BAFTA award winning poet/comedian Henry Normal with music by J. David Jackson, Model Love mixes musical styles and genres in a way that humorously (and accurately) represents the variegated emotions and situations of contemporary love affairs. J. David Jackson conducts.
Using an icy climate crossed with a fragile-yet-eruptive emotional state of mind as musical grist, Nora, In the Great Outdoors is a take on the ending of Ibsen’s seminal “A Doll’s House,” especially its famous final stage direction, the first collaboration between composer Daniel Felsenfeld and playwright Will Eno. The monodrama takes over immediately where Ibsen leaves off, when the heroine abandons her family, her marriage her security, and perhaps the most famous slammed door in the history of drama. Commissioned by American Opera Projects, Nora, In the Great Outdoors, is a monodrama for soprano and piano trio and will star Kirsten Chambers in the title role. Keith Chambers conducts.