Program Notes

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

Mark Twain first wrote Adam’s Diary, followed by Eve’s Diary two years later. He eventually published both Diaries under the title The Diaries of Adam and Eve.

In preparing the libretto for the opera, I made the decision to combine the material in the separate diaries. In the opera, the story takes the form of a sustained dialogue rather than a series of individual monologues. To accomplish this, I interleaved the two diaries. I also took the liberty of cutting-out small sections of the text. I did not edit any of the text that is used in the opera. Nor did I leave out any essential aspect of the story. All of the words are Mark Twain’s as he wrote them.

Because of my enthusiastic appreciation of MT’s literary genius, there was no question about the need for the amount of speaking that occurs in the opera. The words on the screen are not subtitles. They are, in my view, integral to the intimate experience of the work. The listener is intentionally able to see and hear the words, examine the images, and engage the music all at the same time, which allows the listener to explore different and complex territory within the narrative.

I have challenged the singers throughout the opera to move quickly from singing to speaking and vice-versa. This is not the sprechstimme of Schoenberg or Berg, nor the speak-then-sing form of traditional American musicals, but a rapid alternation of speaking and singing, often without transition.

The piano is used throughout as a means of rendering the music at a scale that is sensitive to the medium of the internet (as opposed to a full orchestration). In addition to the piano, there are a number of spoken passages in which a single orchestral instrument accompanies the voice. Occasionally I have  added percussion, as well as some electronic music, to these unaccompanied sections.

J. H.

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