A Melancholy Tale (or Theater For The Blind)

28 Mar

So last week while i was in Belgrade the director e-mailed me and asked a very interesting question. Could a blind person attend The Steampunk Opera and through the music and vocals, get a full experience? Or as i chose to translate it, follow the story coherently.

This is an excellent question, not the least because as a musician my creations require no visuals to begin with, but even more so because i have crafted a variety of story based musical works meant to tell an immersive story through audio only.

I offer an example here. A 20 minute long story cycle, utilizing a narration to tell a bedtime story based very loosely off the Ice Queen fairy tale.

In relation to the Steampunk Opera however, i had to think it through. Normally, when i want to clearly tell an audio tale i utilize a spoken narrative both for the fairy tale effect and because it’s the most potent way to be clear. As i’ve said before in a past post, my aim in storytelling through music is not to make you have to pour over the song cycle 10 times in order to get it, my aim is to have you sit back and listen to a story.

The SO is a theater show, though, and thus i’ve always been well aware of the eventual visual aspect of the staging, costumes and lighting, even though all that is up to others.

It does use a Narrator, and i did briefly debate having her speak, but it didn’t feel right. An opera, regardless of whether it utilizes contemporary music instead of classical, suggests that it is all sung. It’s not a rule i HAVE to follow, i don’t have to follow any rules as long as i can make something work, but i really want her to sing.

Thus, between her explanations, commentary, insights, the changes in music and the actual characters’ songs, is the story being gotten across clearly enough that if you just listened to the album you would comfortably get it? (If some minor details slide by, ok)

Aside from the fact that i believe more or less so, for after years of making self-contained musical pieces it comes a bit naturally at this point, it also places an additional, interesting challenge as i assemble the piece. And a fortunate challenge too, for  this is a type of challenge near and dear to my heart.

As i continue to write the libretto for the first 3 acts (i’ve been focusing particularly on the Narrator the past 2 days) this challenge now stays in my mind as an especial reminder to continuously ask how clear i’m being.

If only it were enough to be clear. Clarity without style, without interesting angles in how things are gotten across, without invention, subtlety and depth, makes for lousy art.

Ah well. If this were easy and i wanted easy i’d go write Friday by Rebecca Black. (Cheap shot. Okay, cheap, jumping on the mob fueled bandwagon shot, i know.)

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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in Uncategorized


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