Friday, April 17, 2009
April 17 - Dioclesian / Diocletian
We open, with excellent performances from all, in both Henry Purcell's Dioclesian and below, with electric harpsichordist Skye Atman and director Harriet March Page in the former.
DIOCLETIAN: A PAGAN OPERA (libretto after Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) (2000), is a trope of Henry Purcell's Dioclesian distorted by atonality, ragtime, minimalism, children's songs, rock'n'roll, and Peter Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5.
MARK ALBURGER is an award-winning ASCAP composer of postminimal, postpopular, and postcomedic sensibilities, published by New Music. He is Music Director of San Francisco Cabaret Opera and San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra, Instructor in Music Theory and Literature at Diablo Valley College and St. Mary's College, Editor-Publisher of 21st-Century Music Journal, oboist, pianist, vocalist, recording artist, musicologist, author, and music critic. He began playing the oboe and composing in association with Dorothy and James Freeman, George Crumb, and Richard Wernick; and studied with Karl Kohn at Pomona College, Joan Panetti and Gerald Levinson at Swarthmore College (B.A.), Jules Langert at Dominican University (M.A.), Roland Jackson at Claremont Graduate University (Ph.D.), and Terry Riley. Among his 174 opus numbers are 12 concertos, 11 chamber ensemble pieces, 4 masses, 20 operas, 2 piano suites, 11 song cycles, 9 symphonies, and a five-hour work-in-progress opera-oratorio (The Bible). Sex and Delila, in preparation for next Spring's Sex and the Bible, will receive its premiere this May during SF Cabaret Opera's Fresh Voices IX Festival.
Mark Alburger - DIOCLETIAN, Op. 90 (2000)
I. FIRST PARAGRAPH MUSIC
"Diocletian . . . abject and obscure . . . was successively promoted . . .in the . . . war."
II. Aria (Mezzo-Soprano) & Chorus, E-I-E-I-O THUNDER
"[P]erfect form of government"
III. Aria (Soprano) & Chorus, HAPPY FUNERAL MUSIC
"[T]he nation was gradually reduced to a state of servitude; compelled to perpetual labour"
IV. Aria (Soprano), WHAT SHALL I DO?
"Christianity introduced stricter notions"
V. Aria (Bass) & Chorus, SPEAK, FLAME
VI. COUNTRY DANCE
"[F]or a while fortune [graced his retirement]"
Pagans and Christians
Annemarie Ballinger, Alison Collins, Kat Cornelius,
Robin Costa, Erin Lahm, Indre Viskontis
Mark Alburger - DIOCLETIAN
(after Edward Gibbon's The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire,
and Henry Purcell's Dioclesian)
I. FIRST PARAGRAPH MUSIC
Abject and obscure,
declared the most worthy of the
Diocletian may be viewed as
founder of Byzantium.
Ostentation was the first principal of the
II. E-I-E-I-O THUNDER
(The stately magnificence [in the spirit of] the court of Persia.
Sumptuous interior with slaves, officers, eunuchs, [etc.])
a bore has become.
Oh me oh my
What heart is heretofore
All praise the thundering Jove
Old Mars and Venus
all of life's passions.
III. HAPPY FUNERAL MUSIC
(Drusilla, wife of Diocletian, a Christian, among Christians)
Sing in suppression,
Oh sing in
our oppression and injury,
servitude, labor, confinement and pain.
Oh sing still
(Christians -- clergy and common people -- murmuring.
Soldiers, armed with rustic weapons, suppress the people, murmuring fades.)
IV. WHAT SHALL I DO?
(Drusilla is led to prison, Diocletian's voice fades in and out at every usage of "her," "man," "she")
What shall I do?
What shall I do to show how much I love her?
I will love more.
I will love more, than man ever loved before me.
To show how much I love her? What shall I do? What shall I do?
How many millions of sighs can suffice? How many millions of sighs can suffice?
Than man ever loved before me? I will love more. I will love more.
Till for her own sake she will implore me. Till for her own sake she will implore me.
V. SPEAK, FLAME
(Drusilla, brought before Diocletian and the people, as a religious traitor to be burned)
Stand in the center of the universe
Call the listening world.
Joy can be yours
With well-chosen words
Great Diocletian waits
The Great Persecutor
Sound his renown
O! O sacred flame
Embalm his name
With honor here
and glory after death
VI. COUNTRY DANCE
(The people fade away, Drusilla and Diocletian remain frozen in place)
21st year of his reign Diocletian executed
his memorable resolution abdicating empire --
action not naturally expected from a prince who never practiced
lessons of philosophy either in attainment or the use of power
Notwithstanding severity of a rainy cold winter
Diocletian left soon after the ceremony -- pale, wan --
retiring immediately to a villa in Luciana where it was
impossible to find any lasting tranquility or peace.