Newsletter #3: “Kind of a disaster”

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Is it the end of the month already? I wanted to give you a quick update on my odd little project, bringing my great grandfather’s long lost opera to life. Last month I sent out an email about how I rediscovered this opera to begin with.

So, how am I going to get this thing performed for a world premiere, 80 years after it was written?

First off, I want to say that I know nothing about opera. And if you had asked me my opinion of opera music before I started this project, I probably would have scrunched up my nose. But that’s changing.

Meet Chris Ramaekers. He’s an award winning conductor, and I met up with him a little while ago to figure out what kind of shape this handwritten opera manuscript is in. Music is like a whole other language to me. And to make things worse, the manuscript we have is in Spanish, so it’s literally a whole other language. Luckily Chris speaks both of these languages.

“The full score is old but in pretty good shape,” Chris told me. But “the piano-vocal score is kind of a disaster.” He’s right. In order to get a sense of what this music actually sounds like, it’ll need to be in performable condition. And in the 21st century, that means a computer-engraved score, not a handwritten draft.

Converting an entire antique opera into something we can actually hear is a big task. I’ll tell you how we’re doing it in my next email update. I can’t wait for you to see what we’ve got lined up. Until then, if you want, you can Like the Facebook page I’ve set up for this project, where I’ve been posting some great photos of the composer (my great grandpa!) that were taken 100 years ago. This month, I posted about the kindness of some random internet sleuths who managed to figure out where one of those old photos was taken. Super cool!

Arlen