One of the hardest things to do in an opera is to be able to translate a basic question, or set of questions, into something visual which brings them to life in a dramatic context.
“How do you remember the fallen?” was one of the important questions which Donna and I felt threaded the opera and this was answered in many through the main protagonist, Rick Rescorla. [Left: Thomas Hampson, who sings the role of Rick Rescorla in the opera, with Christopher Theofanidis.]
Posted: 09/16/2011 by
Christopher Theofanidis (Composer, Heart of a Soldier)
Besides reading and re-reading the book Heart of a Soldier
by James B. Stewart, I took inspiration from a variety of other sources. Here are just some of the additional works that lent their weight as I wrote the libretto.
Posted: 09/12/2011 by
Donna Di Novelli (Librettist, Heart of a Soldier)
Why have there been so many new operas based on current events or contemporary characters? Hopefully, the answer is that these incidents and people inspire composers to write what turns out to be their best music. And calculating producers like me feel the familiar subject matter, elevated as it has been to a mythical level through the power of the media, will deliver the audience into the theater. Advance knowledge of a subject can make a new opera more “friendly,” in the way star performers can attract people to see a piece they don’t know. So getting Tom Hampson to perform the lead role in an opera about 9/11 premiering on the eve of the tenth anniversary of 9/11 should succeed in capturing attention and delivering an audience. Very few events in recent years have elicited such feelings of horror, grief and empathy.
Posted: 09/04/2011 by
David Gockley (General Director)
This morning, August 31st, I am looking over my music with twenty or so "notes" from Francesca, her assistant Matthew, David Hanlon (assistant conductor) and our librettist, Donna Di Novelli. These notes are, of course, little things that can be changed to make the show better and better. It just takes a little brain power and a good deal of strong coffee to assimilate the suggestions; especially precious hours before an orchestral run-thru. [Left: Melody Moore and Thomas Hampson as Susan and Rick Rescorla in a recent working rehearsal. Photo by Cory Weaver.]
Posted: 09/02/2011 by
Melody Moore (Susan Rescorla, Heart of a Soldier)
American Bass-Baritone Michael Sumuel has participated in our Merola Opera Program and even sang a Schwabacher Debut Recital last season, but Heart of a Soldier marks his official San Francisco Opera debut. In this opera, his primary role is Tom, an American soldier and medic who loses his life in the battle of X-Ray in Vietnam.
Opening night is drawing closer! I came into this process knowing that it would be just that-a process. It isn't often that you'll make an important debut with a company such as San Francisco Opera in a world premiere with the composer and librettist present and telling the true story of three remarkable human beings. It is an overwhelming task to concisely describe the process up to this point but I am incredibly grateful to be just one piece within a larger scope.
Posted: 09/01/2011 by
Michael Sumuel (Tom and Ted, Heart of a Soldier)