Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Youthful Emperor

You know when you have three seconds of a tune stuck in your head and you can't for your life figure out what the name of the tune is? The restless feeling, the creeping of the skin? The uneasy feeling of ensuing meltdown if said tune isn't figured out? Well, I had that all night last night. I knew it was an Opera. A contemporary opera, which didn't help at all in my googling, especially since I also knew that it was a pretty darn obscure opera.

This is how it usually goes when this happens: I remember some words of the lyrics and I type them in citation marks followed by "lyrics" in google and that usually does it. But this time, I only had "What is so ?????? about becoming a man...????" and descriptive words like "marimba" "contemporary opera". Didn't help at all.

I scrolled through all the Spotify-play lists belonging to the person who recommended the Opera in the first place (Of course I had already mailed him, but hadn't gotten a reply!!) and found nothing.

I read through countless lists of Contemporary American Operas (I thought I remembered that the composer was American) thinking that I would be able to recognize the name of the opera once I saw it. But nope.

Alas, when I woke up this morning I had one more second to add to the three seconds, but fat load of good that did me..."What is so ???? about becoming a man when ....?????"

My last resort was to go through all of my own Spotify-play lists and pay special attention to the ones that I frequented about four years ago when I had last been obsessed with the opera, and won't you believe that there, in my Spotify-bucket list: "Just nu" [Right now] I finally found Young Caesar!

Lou Harrison wrote the obscure Opera, "Young Caesar", in 1970. It was composed as an Indonesian puppet theatre production, with influences from Chinese Opera and premiered at Caltech, in California. After that it seems it hibernated from the stage and Harrison allegedly worked on the Opera to incorporate more western melody and instrumentation. In 2007, 4 years after his death, the "new" rendition premiered in San Fransisco, and I believe it is that performance that can be found on Spotify. It is haunting and absolutely gorgeous. Look it up, or check out the compilation youtube film below with the three main arias!

References: This Article.

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