Libretto, MARIFE

Ten years ago, in VCCA (Virginia Center for the Creative Arts), self was working on a novella called Marife, loosely based on the events of the Oklahoma City bombing.

A composer named Drew Hemenger, who she met at VCCA, worked with her to turn it into a full-length opera.

The orchestral suite was performed by Hampshire Symphony two years ago. In her most woebegone moments, Drew would direct self to this or that opera (Porgy and Bess?) which took 20 years to be performed. And self would say, “Drew. I do not have 20 years.”

Dear blog readers, this is just to let you know that two people, if they are determined enough, even with no money, can create an opera. The problem has always been finding people who want to stage it. So self is doing this blog on the opera, for the first time. In case someone has any ideas to share?

Here’s how the libretto begins:

I.

MARIFE:

They were talking and talking and talking.

LAWYER:

About what?

MARIFE:

How do I know? What men talk about. Fishing, maybe.

LAWYER:

Fishing?

MARIFE:

Yes, fishing.


Self remembers when she first presented the libretto to Drew, he looked at the 80 pages and said, “That’s going to take three days to sing.”

So self chopped off all the lines to about half their length.

Is that how one writes a libretto? Self doesn’t know. She never wrote a libretto before.

“And just put in the word love, as many times as you can,” Drew said.

“I am not that kind of writer,” self declared.

“This is opera! Do it!”

Right after the Las Vegas shooting, self saw so many parallels with the Oklahoma City bombing. She asked Drew, “Didn’t it strike you as eerie? The ammonium nitrate? The Filipina?” Drew said: “I don’t know. I’ve been trying to stay away from all the Las Vegas shooting news.”

At  one point, Drew met someone who said we could have it staged in the CCP, the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He nearly flew over to Manila.

And self asked: Who was she? And then: Drew, this is one walk you’re going to have to take alone.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

How Did Self Get Here?

She took a summer course in Creative Writing from John L’Heureux. He told her he thought she should apply to the Creative Writing Program. Because she was out of ideas about what to do with her life (Her ideas only carried her as far as six months into the future), she dutifully applied. She got in. She had no idea she’d spend the next two years sitting around a table with 11 other people, talking about each other’s writing as if it married. No idea that writing, at least in America, was considered very hard work. She didn’t know why her fellow fellows spent so much time in Antonio’s Nut House on California Avenue.

She didn’t know that the tall skinny lad with the piercing green eyes who was called Read the rest of this entry »

“Jesters”: Disjointedness

This piece came out January 2012 in Used Furniture Review.

Self enjoys writing things that are disjointed.

She started “Jesters” in VCCA (the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts). The house she describes in the piece is the main house there. The books listed in the piece are books self found on the shelves in the main house. Here’s an excerpt:

There is so much weight here: the house, the barn, the chestnut horses in the field, the Chinese elms, the white porch, the brick path, the flowering oregano bushes, the Steinway grand, the porcelain vases, the shelves and shelves of books: Culture & Anarchy, Multilingual Lexicon of Linguistics and Philology, Cassell’s Italian Dictionary, The World and The Text. You run your hands over the dusty spines. You finger the books. You feel yourself melting, slowly.

You know what else self found on the shelves in the main house? A copy of the literary magazine Story, which was the first American magazine to ever publish her. The story was “Ginseng.” Actually, self didn’t find the magazine; another writer did, and showed it to her. Wow! Amazing!

Stay tuned.

Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: Escape 2

The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts

The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts

Self spent the month of August 2007 here, writing in a little studio by the barn.

Here was where she wrote the piece “Jesters,” which was published January 2012 in Used Furniture Review.

Stay tuned.

Amazing Drew

We met at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.  Since then, he’s become self’s partner in crime, the one who hopes to set one of self’s stories to music, someday.  Can’cha just see it?

MARIFE:  An Opera

Libretto by Marianne V________

Music composed by Drew Hemenger

On now, at the Metropolitan Opera House

Reservations HIGHLY recommended

What impresses self about Drew is his incredible output. This despite holding down a full-time (administrative) job.  One of his pieces was performed at Symphony Space for the 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Commemmoration.

So, here’s what’s up with Drew for the month of February. The first event is in New York, the second is in University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee:

  • Saturday, Feb. 4, 8 p.m.

Tenri Cultural Institute of New York
“Four Places in New York,” a piece for four-hand piano (part of Mark Peloquin’s Keyed Up Music Project)
Tickets: $20, reservations recommended

  • Saturday, Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Soprano Adrienne Danrich will enchant audiences with “An Evening in the Harlem Renaissance,” which includes Drew’s jazz-influenced songs inspired by the iconic Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes

Short Story “Jesters,” Live Now at Used Furniture Review!

Oh, exciting news this Friday morning, dear blog readers (Self would like to add, as an aside, that the weather today is gorgeous, just gorgeous!  Self walked The Ancient One, whose walk now resembles a wave surge more than anything else.  That is, the top half of her body is aimed forward, she looks purposeful and determined, but her legs and knees hardly move at all.  Oh, poor Ancient One!  Perhaps in a decade self, too, will be like you:  surging forward, but with failing limbs. AAACH, self, there you go again with your endless digressions and peregrinations!  For heaven’s sake, can’t you just get on with the  announcement of your piece on Used Furniture Review?)

Um, yes.  The endlessly fascinating Used Furniture Review snagged “Jesters.”  A short story she wrote while she was in VCCA.  All the book titles mentioned in the piece?  They were the titles of actual books in the VCCA library.  Hmm, maybe self should let the VCCA folks know?

VCCA was helpful in so many other ways:  That is where she met Drew the classical composer (formerly of Yellow Springs, Ohio, now of New York City), Lucille Colin the photographer, and Patrick Somerville (Her single most indelible memory of her time at VCCA was of walking from her studio in the barn to the main house, in complete darkness, hoping she didn’t step on a racoon or a fox or anything that might be lurking in the area, and finding a little square of light, not moving, a few yards to the side.  So, inching along the lane, self was able to verify that the square of light belonged to a laptop, and the face that hovered intently just a few inches from the screen was Patrick Somerville’s)

WHAT.  A.  LOOOONG.  DIGRESSION.  THAT.  WAS!!!  Phooey!

And now  — TARA! — an excerpt from self’s piece:

A strange morning. You woke to a new light, grayish and cool. No longer the intense white glare of the past weeks. Blue mountains now hazy in the distance. Someone told you what they were called, but you immediately forgot.

Sit.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Question for Drew, Who Is at VCCA For Two Weeks

Are there still three chestnut horses in the field between the barn and the main house?

Self took this picture at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), when she was there August 2007

Oh, the bucolic VCCA fields! Even the fire hydrant looks so -- post-modern!

Drew sent self a music file:  himself playing the piano and singing, our opera, Scene 1.  Self’s hair absolutely stood on end!

She called Drew and said, “I didn’t know you could sing!”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Friday Night, Redwood City: Formosa Bento House

Hubby was driving home.  Self called and asked what his plans were.  She ticked off the leftovers in the fridge:  callos, spaghetti . . .

Usually, hubby says he feels like eating out.  But he only tells self after she’s already cooked dinner, what a drag.

Today, she hadn’t cooked yet.  She was so busy chatting with Drew, who’s in VCCA and who is working hard on our little opera project.  Self could picture the scene:  Drew in his studio in the barn, the three horses in the field, the big and friendly barn kitchen . . .

She hasn’t been on another residency since she was at VCCA, 2007.

Anyhoo, hubby walked in the door and had an immediate hankering for Formosa Bento House.  This is one of those hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop restaurants that hubby and self love.  It is on Broadway, right in downtown Redwood City, and just a few doors down is the né plus ultra of all peninsula bars:  City Pub.  As usual, the sidewalk tables were full, and the waitresses were veeery busy.

At Formosa Bento House, the tables were almost full:  there was just enough space left for the two of us.  Self had done some preliminary research on Yelp and informed hubby that this time, we should try the Taiwanese (Formosa) dishes, they were better than the Japanese dishes.

So hubby went for the fried pork chops, and self went for the stewed pork rice.

Hubby’s dish came out looking like ton katsu (without the brown sauce), and self’s dish was a huge bowl:  minced pork and pickled vegetables and shredded cabbage and rice.  The small bowl of soup that accompanied it was laden with fresh cilantro and was oh, so good.

Afterwards, we walked down Broadway, skirting the seated crowds.  Erawan (a Thai restaurant) and Paradise (a “Persian kabob” restaurant) were busy.  We walked past self’s other favorite hang-out in Redwood City, Natalie Nail Salon.  Peet’s was uncharacteristically empty.

It was a balmy summer evening, one of those that really make you love being in California.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Happy New Year!

Lucille Colin's "Norway"

Out of the blue, self got an e-mail from Lucille Colin, who she first met three years ago, during a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

That was some residency.  She met:  Patrick Somerville, Alice McDermott, Drew Hemenger, and Lucille.  Lucille invited self to accompany her on rides to town.  She invited self to go swimming in a lake.  She was the sweetest, kindest, funniest person.

Self lost touch.  Then, yesterday, an e-mail, with this photograph appended.  So beautiful!

Self is happy.

Still Writing (But Mostly Reading)

Self, what is happening to you?  Why are you blogging so much, when you are supposed to be Read the rest of this entry »

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