Reed Luplau and David Daniels
Reed Luplau and David Daniels; photo by Ken Howard, courtesy Santa Fe Opera
Santa Fe Opera's "Oscar"
Santa Fe Opera's Oscar; photo by Ken Howard, courtesy Santa Fe Opera
THEODORE MORRISON is not a household name in the musical world, and certainly not in the realm of opera, since Oscar is his first effort in that genre. He was born in 1938, and his website tells us that he began to compose only at the age of 42, having by that time worked for some 20 years as a choral conductor. He founded the Baltimore Choral Arts Society in 1966 and continued as its music director for 16 years. He served as choral conductor (among other academic responsibilities) at the Peabody Conservatory of Music of the Johns Hopkins University; Smith College; and, from 1987 to 2005, the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. The countertenor David Daniels, while earning his master’s degree at Michigan in the early 1990s, sang in the chamber choir Morrison conducted. Their association would go on to bear fruit when Morrison composed, on commission from Daniels, a song cycle titled Chamber Music (based on texts of James Joyce), and now it continues with Oscar, for which Morrison not only wrote the music but also devised the libretto, assisted by British opera director John Cox. — J.M.K.
Posted: Friday, July 26, 2013 5:00 am
Updated: 9:39 am, Mon Jul 29, 2013.
Oscar Wilde does not appear to have been very closely attached to music. He was more drawn to the literary and visual arts, and when he wrote about music, it was usually in a vague way, the allusion often supporting what is really a description of another art form, or perhaps supporting nothing more than a witticism. For example, in his fictional dialogue “The Decay of Lying: An Observation,” he declares that Dramatic Art provided her practitioners with “a language full of resonant music and sweet rhythm, made stately by solemn cadence, or made delicate by fanciful rhyme, jewelled with wonderful words, and enriched with lofty diction”— which says perhaps something about drama but nothing about music.
His most memorable pronouncements on the subject appear in another dialogue, “The Critic as Artist: With Some Remarks Upon the Importance of Doing Nothing,” which includes this exchange between his invented characters Gilbert and Ernest:
Or, use your
Friday, July 26, 2013 5:00 am.
Updated: 9:39 am.