Scene 6 or Scene 1
I’ve been thinking about where to go next with Summer’s Twilight. Since the reading I’ve been working on collecting the input of my collaborators and friends, including cast, crew and audience. I think I’ve captured a good amount of the valuable ideas for revisions from the workshop process, but now I’ve got a second question: what to write first.
My biggest problem from the reading is scene 1. It’s the longest, weightiest, and most operatic of the five we performed at the reading. I wanted it that way when I wrote it, but now I see that my basic concept is strong enough not to need that extra weight at the beginning to give it heft. I have some good ideas for how to make it lighter and faster and more fun – more in keeping with the rest of the opera. But it’ll be a good challenge to re-write. I don’t think I’ve quite owned up to how little of what I now I have in the scene I’ll be able to keep. We’ll see.
The other place I could start is scene 6. Scenes 2 through 5 are two-person scenes, with fast-paced musical dialogue between two characters. Scene 6 is the next big challenge – fast paced musical dialogue among four characters, all wanting and believing different things. I’ve already started looking to Figaro (a fantastic model for this problem), and hopefully I’ll turn up some good concepts to steal for my own use, but what they’ll be? Who knows. The reading really gave me proof of concept for my dialogue-writing in those four scenes, and how well the different lines and jokes worked in front of an audience is so helpful in imagining how to do it with four people instead of two.
Both scenes are great compositional challenges, but totally different. In scene 1 I’ve got to re-paint the exposition much lighter, and in scene 6 I’ve got to sculpt this giant teetering bit of architecture that looks as light as a gothic buttress, but is much more likely topple over at any instant.
I kind of want the whole piece to be like the overture to The Marriage of Figaro performed at a blindingly fast speed. I want it sound like a sports car just barely under the control of some speedster trying impress his girlfriend. I want it frantic, funny and just a little bit sweet. Okay, a lot sweet. I’m a sap. Maybe later I’ll write about how hard it is as a conservatory trained musician to make myself feel okay about writing painfully simple and pretty music. Also – hope everyone’s taking a good day off work with family, chinese food, or both.