After Life | New Orleans Production

This January, Loyola University New Orleans gave an excellent production of composer Tom Cipullo’s and librettist David Mason’s opera, After Life. The piece won the Dominick Argento Chamber Opera Competition, granted by the National Opera Association (NOA) and was attended by the public as well as members of NOA.

About the Competition

From NOA: “The Dominick Argento Chamber Opera Competition encourages the composition and performance of short operas especially useful in opera workshops and other training venues. The competition runs in two-year cycles. In the first year, composers submit scores for preliminary judging. Three finalists are chosen and excerpts from those operas are presented at the annual convention (odd years) for competition. The winning opera, chosen from among the three finalists, is produced in its entirety at the NOA convention the following year (even years).”

About the Opera

After Life imagines a post-mortem reunion of Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein. Stein believes her beloved Alice B. Toklas has conjured her back to life, while Picasso wonders which of his many lovers has called him up from the abyss. When both realize, to their disappointment, that their great loves are not present, the two towering figures discuss their lives, their complex relationship, and their activities during the Second World War. Their outsized egos clash, resentment between them boils over and, as they confront each other, a third voice rises from the darkness. A young girl, a victim of the Holocaust, appears, and it is her questioning that has brought Stein and Picasso back from the dead. Why did she die while they lived on? Can the two artists, whose work endures, ever know death as she does? Who will remember her, when she barely remembers herself? Duration: ca. 45 minutes

Reviews:

Cipullo’s musical language, rooted in tonality with generous helpings of dissonance, is direct, succinct and original. His thorough understanding of the human voice allows him to create fully dimensional characters that are sympathetic and imminently believable… [a] finely wrought exploration of the role of art in times of grave crisis.
-Washington Post, April 4, 2016

…a compelling hour of musical theater.
-Seattle Gay News, May 15, 2015

…inventive, pitch-perfect, thought-provoking and refreshing.
-Oregon ArtsWatch

Roles:
GERTRUDE STEIN Mezzo-Soprano
PABLO PICASSO High Baritone
GIRL (teen, a victim of the Holocaust) Soprano

Instrumentation:
Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Piano

Premier:
May 11, 2015, Music of Remembrance (Seattle)

 

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