Douglas Geers
Calling: An Opera of Forgiveness

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Title Calling
Genre: A multimedia opera for singers, amplified chamber ensemble, electroacoustic music, and video 
Duration: 90 minutes (in-progress)
Score: Portions available upon request
Audio: MP3 excerpt HERE
(excerpt of "How Long" section)
Video: N/A.  Full staged premiere will happen September 2008.
The opera Calling is intended to depict a reconciliation, both musically and thematically, between a small group of people who lived in lower Manhattan on and after the day of September 11, 2001. The theme is “Finding harmony is dissonance”.  Segments of this work are being presented on the Serial Underground performances in New York City from June 2007 through March 2008, and a the staged premiere of the finished work is scheduled for September 29, 2008 at the La Mama ETC. in New York City, where it will run through the month of October.

The work (which is still in-progress) is based on Wickham Boyle’s 2002 book A Mother’s Essays from Ground Zero, a collection of short reflections on events in the lives of Boyle and her family from the morning of September 11 through the following month of October, 2001.  Ms. Boyle is writing the libretto for this project and is very actively involved discussing the work as I am composing it.

In order to further pull the realization of the piece away from tropes of opera, we have asked video and installation artist Christine Sciulli to be a collaborator in the project from its earliest stages.  We are excited that she will help us realize a unique visual style to complement the music and narrative arc of the work.

Our intent in Calling is to traverse an emotional pathway rather than to literally depict a precise series of events.  We have chosen several “scenes” from Wickham’s book that we will use as the foundation for the opera, and the relation between the time of the real events and their duration and chronology in the opera will be distorted. In fact, some events will be presented simultaneously.  We have begun experimenting with our ideas and presented a twelve-minute concert work entitled How Long at the Cornelia Street Café “Serial Underground” series on June 11 in New York City.

Regarding the music itself, the excerpt here, from the  "How Long" section of the opera, uses a combination of field recordings, voices, cello, samples of kitchen sounds ordered into mechanical beats, and gentle synthesized arpeggios.  For the opera itself I will employ a richer ensemble of 12-15 instruments and computer. 

If you would like to know more about this work or the methods used to compose it, please email Doug Geers.