For the past six years I have been involved with seven women and a little girl: Tosca, Butterfly, Turandot, Lucretia, Cordelia, Letty Mason, and finally Hester Prynne and her daughter Pearl. My aim has been to re-imagine and transform their roles as heroines, to write strong roles for strong women in new operas and new endings to existing operas.
I began this work while I was a Fellow at the Bunting (now Radcliffe) Institute at Harvard University in the mid-nineties. And in 2015, as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome, to which I have since returned, I took it up again.
Since my time in Rome I have re-written and re-composed the endings to two Puccini operas, Tosca and Madama Butterfly, and created six full-length libretti Butterfly in America, The Scarlet Letter, The Wind, The Once and Future Turandot, Salt, and The Resurrection of Lucretia. To this last, I have also now composed a full orchestral score and am now writing the music to Butterfly in America.
My interest in retelling--all of my work is inspired by existing sources--dates to my graduate student days at Harvard, where, under the direction of Hilary Putnam, I wrote and published a philosophy dissertation on Freud’s theory of mind. Earlier still, it relates to the liberating power of the telling and retelling I did in my own psychoanalysis.
My interest in music goes as far back as I can remember. I always played the piano. Then I fell in love with Bach and learned to play the harpsichord. I studied music and philosophy as an undergraduate at UCLA. After graduate school, I turned my attention from Freud to the philosophy of music.
Thomas Schultheiss, photography
Keiko Tanabe, artwork
I am busy working on several projects and will have more news soon. Stay tuned!
The Resurrection of Lucretia
(Parts and piano vocal score
available upon request)