The Music of Reconciliation
Roger Brunyate re-introduces The Reunion and Perlimplín
On February 2 and 3, the Peabody Chamber Opera will present a double-bill of one-act operas which have both been seen at Peabody before, and which share the common theme of reconciliation. In most other respects they are quite different. The Reunion has a contemporary milieu (contemporary, at least, to the time of its composition); it was written to my own libretto by a Peabody composer, Daniel Crozier; and its subject is friendship and maturity. Perlimplín takes place in the eighteenth century; it is a setting by Curtis Institute composer Kam Morrill of a play by Federico García Lorca; its subject is sexual passion and the mystique of youth.
|Photo-collage by Roger Brunyate|
Since his own graduation, Daniel Crozier, of course, went on to write the award-winning opera With Blood, With Ink, and is now a professor at Rollins College in Florida. I myself have gone on to write many more libretti which are, frankly, more wholly successful than this one. Coming back to it now, however, I am amazed at the freshness of the numerous exchanges which we transcribed from three days of improvisation with the students, and proud of my text for several of the arias and ensembles. But I am a little embarrassed by the seventies idealism of its message, especially since some important tenets of the characters’ liberal activist creed – a return to basic human values – have since been hijacked by the Republicans as their exclusive property!
|Scene from the 1998 production|
|Arturo Chacón (Perlimplín) and Pamela Hay (Belisa)|
Lorca’s Don Perlimplín, a bachelor in his fifties, is persuaded by his servant Marcolfa to marry. She picks upon the beautiful Belisa, whom Perlimplín has glimpsed dressing and undressing through the balcony window opposite his house, and the older man strikes up an arrangement with the girl’s mother (a hilarious role for countertenor) to marry her. She is visited on their wedding night, however, by five younger men. Reaching for the only way to consummate his love for his wife, Perlimplín disguises himself as another younger suitor, makes an assignation with Belisa in her garden, and kills himself in her arms.