Elegy for a Prince
Composer: Sergio Cervetti
Composer Bio: Composer Sergio Cervetti draws from an extensive musical vocabulary that ranges from acoustic to electronic music. He has composed over 150 works for orchestra, opera, chamber ensemble, dance and film. After an early brush with twelve-tone music and minimalism, his current musical style is free, tonally flexible, and features his gift for melody. Cervetti came to the United States from his native Uruguay in 1962. He graduated from Peabody Institute where he studied under Ernst Krenek, Lazlo Halasz and Stefan Grové. He launched his musical career when he won the Caracas Festival Prize for Five Episodes for violin, cello and piano, later published by Moeck Verlag. Following graduation in 1967, the West German Academy invited Cervetti to be composer-in-residence in West Berlin. There he wrote Lux Lucet in Tenebris for a cappella chorus which won the Gaudeamus Prize in Holland, and Prisons, a collaboration with choreographer Kenneth Rinker and artist Alexis Akrithakis, produced at the Akademie Der Kunste. After returning to the States, Cervetti became a US citizen and took residence in New York City where he taught at Brooklyn College, worked for Virgil Thomson and studied electronic music with Vladimir Ussachevsky at Columbia University. In 1972 he conceived "...from the earth..." as a controlled improvisation for a variable number of sustaining instruments that borrowed five notes from Mahler's Das Lied Von Der Erde. High Fidelity/Musical America magazine hailed it as "obviously the work of a gifted composer." He later established his reputation as a composer of electronic music with The Hay Wain inspired by the Hieronymus Bosch painting of the same title. Two sections are heard in Oliver Stone's film, Natural Born Killers. In 1972, Cervetti joined the faculty of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts where he was Master Teacher until 1997. He taught music composition, history and choreography. This was the start of his long association with the dance world with works performed by numerous companies throughout the U.S., Europe and South America. From 1978-1990 he served as Music Director for Rinker/Cervetti Dance and Music, continuing his long term partnership with choreographer Kenneth Rinker. The New Yorker praised 40 Second/42nd Variations, noting that "Cervetti's process, involving various keyboard instruments and synthezisers is as complicated as Rinker's...and like the dances, it is a great pleasure." Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festivals of 1983,'85, 87' premiered Cervetti scores, notably Nina Wiener's dances, Wind Devil and Transatlantic Light. Ballet Hispanico commissioned Inez de Castro, a narrative ballet for virtual orchestra based on the 14th century Portuguese legend. Cervetti served as panelist on various committees including BMI Inc., Creative Artist Program, the Fulbright Commission. His work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, Meet The Composer and private donors.
Librettist: Elizabeth Esris
Librettist Bio: Librettist Elizabeth Esris is a poet who lives and works in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Her poetry is heard in local readings and has appeared in The Bucks County Writer. In 2004 she collaborated with Sergio Cervetti on a musical accompaniment to her poem, Winter Garden. They began work on Elegy For A Prince a short time later; it was her first libretto. She and Cervetti are currently working on an opera based on the story of Gilles de Rais and a theater piece, Otherqueers, that explores the world of a character who has Asperger's syndrome. Esris teaches English in the Central Bucks School District in Bucks, County, Pennsylvania. She has a B.A. in English from La Salle University and an M.Ed. from Arcadia University. She is a fellow of The Pennsylvania Writing Project and her work has appeared in a number of its publications. An essay, "The Forest and the Tree" was included in My First Year as a Teacher published by Signet, a division of Penguin Books, in 1996. She founded and was editor for eleven years of Opus, an award winning art and literary magazine for students.
Other Artistic Personnel: Brian Graman (Conductor)
Susan Woodruff (Musical preparation)
Original Cast: Jeffrey Tucker (Father)
Eric Jordan (Mayor)
Julianne Borg (the Swallow)
Scott Hogsed (the Prince)
Wayne Hobbs (the Young Writer)
Malia Bendi Merad (the Match Girl)
Work Web Site: http://www.elegyforaprince.com
Premiere Date: May 12, 2007
Producing Company: New York City Opera
Description: Imagination, humor, cynicism, sorrow and love intertwine in Elegy For A Prince, a bittersweet musical journey that resonates with life. It places Oscar Wilde’s story, The Happy Prince, within an original framework that begins with a father reading the tale to his son. As in the original story, the Prince seeks to alleviate the suffering that he ignored while he was alive. Swallow is a young vagabond and dreamer of exotic origins who stumbles into town and becomes the Prince’s agent to the poor. Together they fulfill the Prince’s mission. In the process, Swallow develops compassion for humanity and learns from the Prince that love is the divine secret, as expressed in the second act in a farewell duet that borrows from Wilde’s discourse on love in De Profundis. The opera ends with the emergence of one of the characters from the story—the Young Writer—as a champion of compassion and beauty in a cynical world.
Character List (Major): Dramatic Tenor, Baritone, Lyric Soprano.
Character List (Minor): 3 tenors, 1 Bass-baritone, 2 Basses, 1 Lyric Soprano
Length: 02:00
Total Acts: 2
Chorus: Childrens' Chorus
Orchestration: Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, English Horn, E-Flat Clarinet, 2 B-Flat Clarinets, 1 Bass Clarinet, 2 Bassoons, Contrabassoon - 4 French Horns, 3 Trumpets in B-Flat, 2 Tenor Trombones, Bass Trombone, B-Flat Tuba - Piano, Celesta, one player - 4 Percussion players: 4 Timpani, Bass Drum, Snare Drum, Glockenspiel, Marimba, Xylophone, Triangle (7 inch), 3 Timbales, 1 Suspended Cymbal, Ratchet, 2 Anvils low and high pitched, Tubular Bells, Tam-tam, Tambourine, Güiro, Claves, Piece of glass, placed on a hollow wooden box to be broken with a mallet - 2 Harps - Strings
Musical Style: The music is melodic and tonally free, woven of leitmotifs and shifting meters in an uninterrupted flow; a lyrical work of evocative moods, rich in emotional variety.
Contact: Sergio Cervetti or Elizabeth Esris
E-mail Address: kenserg@msn.com
eesris@comcast.net
Phone: 215-489-8716
215-343-7274
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