The acclaimed Butler University Wind Ensemble performs Daron Hagen‘s Bandana Overture on September 29, 2017, under the direction of Dr. Matthew J. Smith. The ensemble ranks as one with a reputation of excellence in musical performance.
Commissioned by the College Band Directors National Association in 1998 as a derived work from the commissioned opera Bandanna, Bandanna Overture was first performed February 24, 1999 by the Small College Intercollegiate Band conducted by H. Robert Reynolds, as part of the CBDNA 1999 National Convention. The work is not included in theatrical productions of the opera; it exists solely for performances in the concert hall.
An intentionally filmic and emotionally-overwrought blowout exploring the themes of betrayal and death, Bandanna Overture begins with an introduction juxtaposing two ideas: a recurring rhythmic motive which, in the opera is associated with the beating of Mona’s heart, and a melody to which the women of the tiny border town cry, ‘Santa Maria, Salve!’ This is followed by a seven bar refrain based on music from a fist fight in the opera’s first scene during which townspeople are singing things like ‘Beat him to death!’ and ‘Slap on the cuffs!’ The introduction is followed by the first major section of the overture which weaves together two melodies — one to which the character Jake sings, ‘Donde esta mi querida?’ and the other to which the chorus sings, ‘To live is to sleep; to die is to awaken.’ The refrain is then expanded to include a tune to which the chorus sings the words, ‘Day of the Dead: Dia de los Muertos.’
The second section juxtaposes two more themes from the opera — one to which the character Kane sings, ‘Off the hook, all of you working the onion fields!’ and the other to which the chorus sings, ‘Dona nobis requiem.’ The third section, marked ‘Like the Main Title of a ’30’s Melodrama,’ is the melody with which the opera begins, climaxes and ends. The first time it appears, a chorus of Migrant Workers sing the words ‘We strike out across the river, with our lives between our teeth’ as they plunge across the Rio Grande from Mexico to the United States; the second time we hear the melody it underpins the scene in which Morales ‘crosses over’ from jealousy to madness; we hear the melody a final time at the opera’s close, immediately after Mona’s death, when her soul is passing from this world to the next across a metaphorical River Styx.
The overture ends as the opera opens and closes, with the recurring chorale melody whose words at the beginning of the opera, ‘To live is to sleep; to die is to awaken’ and ‘Dona nobis pacem‘ have returned at the opera’s end with greater, sadder significance.
Description by Daron Hagen
Source: Bandanna Overture — Daron Hagen