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"Belladonna". An Opera. Music by Bernard Rand; Libretto by Leslie Dunton-Downer

Tuesday 16 December 2003

Description: Two acts

Premiere: Aspen Opera Theater Center

Publisher: European American Music Distributors

Musical Forces: Flute, oboe, clarinet, alto saxophone, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, 2 percussion, piano, harp; strings; 6 sopranos, 4 mezzo-sopranos, 7 tenors, 5 basses; two choruses

Musical Style: Atonal with melodic vocal line; chorus sings in Gregorian chant-like melismas, usually in ecclesiastical Latin; allusions to Wagner, Bach, and Beethoven

Synopsis: Belladonna is centered around the dinner conversation of five women about the different kinds of love. The main characters include an unfeminine Chinese activist, an alcoholic Classicist in love with one of her students, an opera singer devoted to her admiring audience, a young divinity student soon to take holy vows, and a doctor of alternative medicine who runs a fertility-abortion clinic. Each of these women lives out fears, desires, fantasies, or experiences associated with her views of love, with each of these scenes set in a distinct fantasy landscape.

The opera is inspired by Plato’s "Symposium," in which great men converse about love over the course of a dinner party. On a separate level, it follows the sequence of events of the Easter passion: The Last Supper, Temptation, Solitude, Betrayal, Accusation and Trial, Execution, and the Resurrection.

Monika Krajewska as Emma Goldman