A WOMAN’S CREATIVE IDEA
As a noted opera and chamber music singer, Jazimina MacNeil already had Dvorak’s Moravian Duets for women’s voices. Born of 19th Century Europe, the duets sang of landlords, vineyards, lost love and agrarian life, all accompanied by piano, and all sung in Czech, Dvorak’s native language. What MacNeil didn’t have was a vehicle, a way to feature the duets more often in concert performances.
She realized she needed a story and a storyteller.
A TWO-YEAR COLLABORATION
Odds Bodkin was performing in Concord, MA when MacNeil introduced herself and her idea. It struck him as a good one, so she sent him a recording of 23 Moravian Duets with printed lyrics in Czech and English. After a listen, he got back to her, “I think there’s a story in here, but to create it, I’ll have to change the established order of the duets,” he said, wondering if this might be a sacred cow in the soprano business. “Go ahead,” she said. Delighted with the reply, he entered the smithy of my soul, as James Joyce called the writing process, and started hammering away at a new adult fairy tale.
Two years later, the result is the premiere of Danika the Rose, a tale that feels ancient, but with a very modern edge. On the surface, it’s the story of a young peasant girl and a duke who is obsessed with her beauty. But Danika also delves into hidden communications with animals, the fraught relationship between loving them and eating them, and how ecological systems, once out of balance, can cascade into disaster.
That, and how even in a world of magic, a love triangle can explode into jealous darkness.
A NEW WORK FOR THE CLASSICAL CANON
Sung by MacNeil and Sarah Shafer, those Moravian Duets, now in their new order in a fresh score crafted by MacNeil, comment upon and emotionally deepen the tale. Even so, on their own, the songs are lively, sonorous and beautiful–the power of a great symphonic melodist, condensed into brief pieces.
Have the singer and the storyteller created a new classic?
Come answer that question for yourself on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019 at 4 pm in Bass Hall, Peterborough, NH. An ElectricEarthConcerts presentation.
Called “a consummate storyteller” by The New York Times, Bodkin will narrate and create characters and sounds during the performance, while Jazimina MacNeil and Sarah Shafer sing Dvorak’s glorious songs in Czech. Emely Phelps accompanies on piano.