The Universal pause implied by an ...

Writing an opera is an amazing process involving alot of back and forthing between Librettest and Composer. Some of this discourse is inventive and invigorating. Some is angry and territorial. Some is just silly...

Said I: You missed the point! She pauses there!
Said He: What do you mean, pauses? She is on a roll. This is a declamatory moment.
Said I: There! There! By the three dots thingy... oh what's that called again? It isn't important... but they DEFINATELY mean pause!
Said He: An ellipsis?
Said I: That's it! It means pause!
Said He: Actually it means: 'the series of three dots (periods) in a row that indicates a word or phrase has been omitted.'
Said I: Well. Yeah. But in the international language of librettists that are writing lyrics at 3 am in the morning... it means pause!!
Said He: But... listen to this incredible flowing lyric line I've composed... a pause would interrupt that...
Said I: Oh...
Said He: ...
Said I: ...

Actually, for the most part the working relationship between Chip and myself is a dynamic and fruitful one. We compliment each other's strengths and get excited by the same ideas. Occasionally we sweat the small stuff! ...

Comments

Chip said…
Yes, most of the time it's fruitful. Some of the time it's exasperating (like the above). Fortunately our working relationship isn’t about winning and losing or personal agendas but about what is the best final product.

Personally, I find the energy, enthusiasm and emotion involved with these kinds of situations part of what keeps our writing energetic, enthusiastic and emotional. If an opera isn’t any of these, why would anyone want to sit through it?

And there is the crux of the whole argument, what is the audience going to perceive? Will they see her fumbling over words? (as one does when one is excited)
Taking a moment to catch her breath? (certainly the vocalist would appreciate one)

Or

Does she need to move forward, emphatic?
Not give her opponent time to respond?

The question comes down to what is the best meaning for the moment. Regardless as to how wonderful the music is in a given phrase, if the emotion or meaning behind the words isn’t the best one for the situation then the music fails in its role.

The music in opera is not about sounding pretty, but adding a subtext to the text, an extension of the emotion not present in the words, to speak to the audience on a level words can not do on their own.

So, as in the situation above, the librettist and composer must work together to create the final piece. The words must speak as the character would – and the music must add the meaning unspoken.

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