I’m hard at work in the middle of my opera, ANGELA PERALTA. We are half way across the Sea of Cortez in the middle of the night, and the sailors are restless and wild. When Angela shows up, they flirt with her and she loves it. Their antics come and go in Act 1 and are always cast in 10/8 (3+3+2+2) — great fun.
“YOU KNOW LENNY WOULD LOVE THIS PART”
I smelled old-man-smell with cigar breath wafting onto me from behind. I turned around and there was Giuseppe Verdi standing, listening with his left hand tucked inside his vest.
Verdi: It never occurred to me to have such fun with rhythm in my day, but at least I didn’t have to be embarrassed about writing melodies!
RB: Welcome, Giuseppe!
Verdi: You may call me Joe
RB: Joe. Right. Joe. I think you’ve shown up like the ghost of Christmas past, present and future rolled into one. You are going to give me a pep talk about melody?
Verdi: Something like that. It seems that much of the opera since I left has turned into grand theater; yes, there is always music, music everywhere, but what do you give the people to take home? An experience, they tell you. Feh! I say give them a melody they’ll never forget. And although there have been some great modern operas in the past century, how many of them have tunes sung by the people?
RB: Uh, Gershwin? Bernstein, or is that a musical? Lots of Puccini…
Verdi: STOP. If you want to be honest, musicals have really carried on that tradition. Opera has become far too serious to dole out tunes.
RB: But that’s sure as hell what I’m doing in the opera I’m writing.
Verdi: Yes m’boy, and I’m proud of you for doing it. Don’t stop and don’t question yourself.
RB: Even though I know Mark Swed will slaughter me?
Verdi: Don’t worry about such voices. Trust yourself and sing. Sing, blast you!
And he disappeared.