Greetings from a Starbucks in Strongsville Ohio, where I'm trying to catch up on emails and blogging. If you're in the Cleveland area, I'll be quickly presenting my music at Baldwin Wallace University sometime around 5:30 p.m. today. Oh, and I'll actually be writing a piece tomorrow. Supposedly.
Last Monday NANOWorks sponsored a libretto development for Doug Pew and Dara Weinberg's (Part I and III) of A GAME OF HEARTS. Why? Dara was in town from Poland!!!
But really, we want to help them, and this is an opera NANOWorks may want to produce (in serials) in the future. So, don't fret short-attention-span opera lovers (myself included), we will still stick to our mission statement.
There aren't very many libretto development opportunities, which is a crying shame since writers need to hear how their work is shaping. If a composer doesn't have a good libretto to work with, how do you expect a composer to write a good opera?
I'll also put this in perspective, from the librettists' point of view.
"I've told many people that writing an opera libretto is unlike any other creative writing endeavor. There are aspects of poetry and aspects of playwriting, but if you lean too heavily in either of those directions you are bound to fail. You can't have the staged action show nearly as much as you can in screenwriting, but you can't come close to the expository sections you can get away with in writing novels or short stories. You have to convey just as much story and art in about one third the word count you've allotted in playwriting. So you can't be married to your words, or to your self esteem, your ego, if you want to successfully pair with a composer and get your story across.
Being a librettist is possibly the most challenging while at the same time being the lease rewarding (in terms of fortune or fame) creative writing craft, which probably goes a long way to explaining why there are so few librettists around. Yet despite the immense challenge of crafting a libretto, as a writer, you're typically faced with far fewer opportunities to hone your piece in advance. The feedback writers get in workshops for novels or plays just doesn't exist for librettists outside a couple of rare opportunities."
And, check this: according to Dara, "'Play development' is a common thing in the theater world—if "libretto development readings" became a more frequent occurrence,…I think it would be a wonderful thing."
NANOWorks does hope to sponsor more of these small, close-knit libretto development events since it helps the writers (and composers!) so much. Also, they're a ton of fun.