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
Scenes from The Resurrection of Lucretia were recently workshopped at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. The score is now fully orchestrated and the opera is currently being prepared for posting on this website. Stay tuned….