Music

CLARA

Music: Kyle Gann

Libretto: Lois Walden

Currently a work in progress, Clara is an intimate, modern opera based on the passionate and fated relationship of Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms.  It explores the intricate dynamics of creativity, passion, and madness while uncovering the profound connection of these three artists: their genius, codependence, and obsessive love.  Though they lived in the 1800s, this is a 21st-century perspective with universal themes that resonate with the psyche of today. 

 

Clara Schumann is a woman striving toward liberation. Johannes and Robert are her greatest supporters and distractors, and their conflicts and connection result in some of the greatest music of all time.  Exploring their incendiary relationships gives us a deeper understanding of how artists live, dream, and relate to one another under extraordinary circumstances. --Lois Walden

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Although I have written operas before, the idea Lois Walden approached me with was a stark departure from my previous music: an opera about Clara Schumann, in terms of her relationships with Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms. Clearly, a stage work about three such historic composers would have to engage their music. I have been teaching their music in analysis classes for decades, and have written the occasional song in Romantic tonality, but I had not been much given to quotation of other composers. However, the idea of using my favorite pieces of theirs as groundwork and inspiration immediately appealed to me. In particular, since Clara’s music is by far the least well-known of the three, I felt an obligation to embed her music in mine, to make certain parts of the opera a collaboration with Clara. So far, my use of her music has already run the range from outright quotation to collage to far paraphrase to hidden underlying chord progressions. I do hope that classical music lovers in the audience will smile at the tunes they recognize.

 

At the same time, I am not a proponent of naturalistic drama. Lois and I shared a sense that while Clara, Robert, and Johannes can be revered for their music, their lives were kind of a mess. We wanted to look at them from a 21st-century viewpoint, and my way of doing that was to use an ironic 21st-century orchestration, with marimba, bass clarinet and electric bass, so that if the musical language was 19th-century, the sound of the piece would be anything but. We have a famous love triangle, but this is no Tristan – or if it is, it is a Tristan written by people who’ve been through therapy and have no intention of dying of unfulfilled lust. I think in the music and words we can look at our trio with a mixture of admiration, compassion, and amusement, and bring them to life not as they saw themselves, but as they would seem if they suddenly appeared among us today. --Kyle Gann

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MILA: Great Sorcerer

Music by Andrea Clearfield
Libretto by the late Jean-Claude van Itallie & Lois Walden

An epic tale that originates in Tibet, elaborating on it to create a narrative that addresses shared human experiences, such as redemption and enlightenment.

This exciting new opera showcased at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater in NYC January 12 & 13 as part of the 2019 PROTOTYPE Festival

“Folk hero, singer, and spiritual teacher, Milarepa has been venerated for one thousand years. But as a child, directed by his mother, he wields black magic against the aunt and uncle that stole his inheritance, and destroys his entire village. His remorse sends him on a life journey from mass murder to enlightenment. Set to lush orchestration melding Eastern and Western sounds, his transformation and redemption into the most revered teacher of Tibetan Buddhism offer hope and spiritual wayfinding to all who regret acts of consequence and seek higher ground. ”

Lois talked with The Poughkeepsie Journal about MILA

Read the article...

Traveller, Lois Walden

Traveller

Discovery Records – 77073-2

Good News in Hard Times, Sisters of Glor

Good News in Hard Times

Sisters of Glory

Walden (LP, Album), Earth Records (2)ELPS-1001

Walden, Lois Walden

Walden

Walden (LP, Album), Earth Records (2)ELPS-1001

Appearances

FOOTNOTES

A one-woman show,directed by Barry Kleinbort. Arrangement & piano, Paul Greenwood.

Laurie Beechman Theatre NYC

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WOODSTOCK '94

Sisters of Glory

Lois Walden on stage with Sisters of Glo