Opera Update (and Another Preview Track!)

21 Jun

So, you know, i figure every now and then i should actually get around to discussing the actual SHOW, heaven forbid.

During the composition process there just isn’t much to discuss. However, i did complete the entire piece. The show runs exactly 1 minute short of the 90 minute mark i was asked to stay under. I can’t really go into the story too much other than each of the 4 Acts follows a character from each of 4 generations of the McAlistair family line who live in the fictional city of New Albion. That and there’s a bunch of shenanigans with dead people and mannequins.

There is a female Narrator or MC or whatever you wish to call it ( we’ll come up with her official title down the line), a male performer who plays one particular character the entire show (a dead guy trapped in the body of a full sized Doll) and then a female and male performer who each switch characters each act as we follow the next generation.

So for instance, the woman will be Annabel McAlistair in Act 1, then Fay, the fiancée of Edgar McAlistair in Act 2, then a teenage girl in the city in Act 3, then Priscilla McAlistair in Act 4.

The current working title for the show is The Dolls Of New Albion, with A Steampunk Opera probably somewhere under it.

I am including a song from the show. I was torn between two tracks, but i’ll post the other one in the next few days. I’m going to start with the first song after the Overture. Sung by the Narrator it introduces us to the city of New Albion. Indeed, at the beginning of each act the Narrator sings a variation of this song, filling us up on what the city is like after a generation. This is a demo version, meaning especially that the vocals you hear are not the correct ones. They are currently being sung by me, but they will NOT be so in the show or on the album. It will be a female voice. Mine are only here as a scratch track, so you just have to look past it.

I’ve sent the piece off to both the Director and a couple other folks to get some feedback because if there are holes in it or ways to make it better i no longer know. After months of intense work, concentration and obsessive immersion in the piece, now that i have it, i am far, far too close to be able to discern whether it stands (although feedback is stating it does quite nicely) and where to improve it.

For this the Director’s impressions will be particularly helpful. Since after this point he will take over the process of envisioning the piece on the next level, that is a staged show, his impressions are the most important. While i theoretically have final say over the story and music at this stage, once he gets rolling his will be final say on every and all matters afterwards and my job will be to help and support him in all ways he may ask. I will watch my composition be taken in incredible and strange new directions i could never myself forsee and become something far, far more than i could make on my own. This will also include decisions that will not every single time be my personal preferences but at that point it will be my job to support, not to conflict.

Advice to young talent: never, NEVER be that writer who goes on the set of the series or movie and has a hissy fit over how it’s been changed from your book. Seriously. Nothing good comes of it. If you want to direct a series or movie, then do so. If you can’t, then let those who can do it. If it ends up sucking, well shit. Be more careful next time. But who knows, it might turn into the AMAZING Game Of Thrones, a series i am in awe of, especially since i love the books, and it’s fascinating to see the changes the show makes to the original book, each and every change an excellent choice which makes for a better viewing experience.

As far as my next move, aside from possible fidgeting with the music and story post feedback, is for the Director and i to begin assembling some vocal talent and record a 5 song demo. As it stands now, on the copy of the show these folks are listening to, i am doing all the singing, my voice serving simply as scratch vocals so they can hear what’s actually going on. I need to record a 5 song demo with singer who are closer to what the actual performers will sound like, and obviously the singers chosen will be the potential stage performers themselves.

This all has to do with funding.

What will happen is likely thus: The Director and another musician in London will assemble a pool of vocal candidates. They will send me audition tapes, that is examples of the performers singing, and i will then travel to London to hear and choose the most likely vocalists myself in person. (you cannot audition from far away. in this day and age i do a whole number of tasks from other places and countries then where other people i work with live, including farming out various instrument parts but vocalists are WAY too complicated to do anyway but in person.)

That’s the next step for me. I’ll post another track from the show in a few days. In general, as always intended since the start of this blog, consistent news of the show will not really become a factor until the audition and rehearsal process, which is still a little ways away.


Posted by on June 21, 2011 in Uncategorized


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3 responses to “Opera Update (and Another Preview Track!)

  1. gondorlady

    June 29, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Very cool! Keep up the good work….hard, but worth it. I used to work for San Diego Opera years ago as an event photographer and was able to see all the dress rehearsal performances for each new opera during a season. I’ve seen all the classics in several languages. Which of course doesn’t equate to your opera since yours is very different from the classics but it obviously has elements to it that have been influenced by them.
    Wonderful music as well, like it very much. If this ever comes to San Diego (CA), I want tickets and I’ll come in costume and get a bunch of local Steampunk costumers to as well!!! It’ll be an event to promote and get _you_ noticed!!!

    • paulms

      June 30, 2011 at 9:07 pm

      I Always hesitate to call it an Opera, although the idea of A Steampunk Opera is jsut too awesome not to refer to. However, opera does denote a classical, orchestral sound with operatically trained voices, something this work will have none of. The only other option as far as i can see is to call it a musical, but musical denotes a peppy chorus and various bells and whistles it will also have none of.

      Since the entire thing is indeed sung, and is a Tragedy albeit in an updated form with my own twists, it technically is more or less an opera. (and i will shoot myself and everyone involved before i let it get labelled “a rock opera”. Not that i’m against rock operas, actually i have a total geekout spot for them, but it’s a dated, 70s reference.)

      I would happily bring it to San Diego! We shall build it and we shall see…

  2. Joe Employee

    June 29, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Yes Please bring it to San Diego!


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