Notes on the Fly

So by now you know that I want to write librettos and I’ve been working at it on my own, in concentrated style, for a bit now. Last night I came to realize that I’m approaching the “horse” – as it were – from the wrong end (aka: ass backwards.) I am not surprised because that is how I seem to approach everything in life that is important to me.

Sitting in a Master Class with David Henry Hwang, author of many notable works of opera & theatre including M Butterfly, I was surprised to learn that he has never approached a composer with an idea for an opera. He has always been the one approached because he believes, and rightly so, that the composer is the one who truly drives an operatic piece. When he has an idea of his own he turns it into a play. 

This had a double effect on me: a) I was depressed and b) relieved. 

Depressed because I am brimming with ideas that I can totally visualize being sung on a stage and relieved at understanding the way I was going about being a librettist could be accomplished in a different way. 

One does not simply 

walk up to a composer, hand her a script and say – compose something to this. Most people who have spent a lifetime honing their compositional skills would be justified in telling me to fuck off.

I get it now. In the dance of making this most complex of collaborative art forms come alive it has to start with an idea. A core idea. The librettist constructs good literary bones upon which, if inspired, a composer can take and make her own. 

What I create is not mine to keep. What I create I create to give away to lift the creative wings of another. What I create lives on by the grace of others and along the way I relinquish control. It’s just like having a child: and it hurts just as much to let it go.

Writing librettos and working with composers is what I truly want to do with the rest of my life. So my course correct will be this: write plays. Fulfill on the visions I have and make them into something that can come alive on a stage for actors to work with. For purely operatic ideas all I need do at this point is write narrative, to compose my own poetry, to let the Fantazmagorium of wacky passionate ideas rolling around in my beating heart flow out on the page and trust. I must trust the ground I’ve laid out already and the new ground I’m building will bring me face to face with the right people at the right time. I must trust. I must trust, I must write and trust, I must write and trust and share my work. 

Progress occurs when preparation meets opportunity

Time to get back to work – thanks for reading. 

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