The first reading of “Dear Erich” took place on June 20 in NYC. With eight singers and a jazz trio, it was a truly thrilling experience for me. In working with the singers, whom I coached extensively, the meaning of the text and the drama behind it began to come to life and take on real dramatic sensibility. As I am a first-time opera composer, it was highly illuminating to see how different kinds of musical phrases and musical expression would emphasize the text and the dramatic elements of the scene.
As we got to the final rehearsals and then the reading itself, the singers began to perform largely “off book.” Now, not only was the drama in the texts coming to life through the music and lyrics, but the acting, along with hand and facial gestures brought the piece to new dramatic heights. (There was still no real staging involved at this point). Character interaction and the dramatic arc of individual scenes as well as the whole opera began to take shape.
While I can have a sublime musical experience listening to solo piano, or playing, as a solo pianist, the multiple elements that will go into the opera seem to create many exciting, new and different (for me) artistic possibilities. Clearly for some arts lovers the combination of music, acting, drama, sets, costumes, dance and more can be quite alluring.
I’m very excited that New York City Opera announced that it plans to produce “Dear Erich” in an upcoming season – most likely 2018-’19 – and I’m eager to see how these various elements will come together to make an exciting whole.