2016 House Programs La Belle et La Bête - Page 4

The opera/film presentation of La Belle et la Bête began as the second part of my trilogy of theatre works based on the films of Jean Cocteau. In the first of the series, I used the scenario from the film Orphée as the basis for the libretto of a chamber opera. I didn’t use the imagery of the film, allowing the staging in operatic form to attempt a new visualization of the libretto. But in this case the opera, composed with the dialogue, is performed live in conjunction with the projected film (with the original soundtrack eliminated entirely). This made the job of composing the music much more complex since the words and the voices had to be synchronized as closely as possible to the images on the screen. The third part of the trilogy was a dance/theatre work based on the scenario of the film Les Enfants Terribles. In this way the trilogy represents translation of film into the live theatrical forms of opera (Orphée), opera and film (La Belle et la Bête), and dance/ theatre (Les Enfants Terribles). To realize La Belle et la Bête as a live opera/film event has been a dauntingly complex project and without prior experience working with live music and film, I would not have attempted it at all. However, since the mid-80s I have presented a variety of projects involving live music and film, working with music director Michael Riesman, and sound designer Kurt Munkacsi. Specifically, I am thinking of the films Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi as well as the melodrama 1000 Airplanes on the Roof, (while not actually a film, it is based on film imagery and technology). This preoccupation with film has grown out of my appreciation of film as one of the two new art forms (jazz being the second) born in the 20th Century. In its first 100 years, the world of film has created a new kind of literature, one that the world of live music, experimental theatre, dance, and even opera can draw on, just as in the past, historic novels, plays, and poems become the basis of new music/theatre works. IMAGE | Jean Cocteau, La Belle et la Bête Production still courtesy of Janus Films FROM THE COMPOSER