I was musing on the possibility of staging a version of ‘Synecdoche, New York’ (not that I’d ever get the rights, but let’s put it on a wish list). A play within a play, within a play, within a play, within a play… in a massive warehouse space (on the list).
I just happened at the time to be listening to (amongst other things) the brilliant soundtrack of Once Upon a Time in the West. The music was of course composed by Ennio Morricone and interestingly written prior to the beginning of filming. The music is thematic, which possibly made things easier when it came to matching the music with the visuals, but Sergio Leone had the opportunity to film with the music already in his head. I’d like to extend this idea and have the music composed in response to what happens in the rehearsal room, and match the music to the action and vice-versa. So, if I am going to put ‘Getting the rights to produce a stage version of S,NY’ on my wish list, I am also putting ‘Ennio Morricone to compose an original score whilst we rehearse, responding to what happens in the rehearsal room’ on the list as well. Add to this ‘Get all the fantastic actors, musicians, puppeteers, designers etc that I have ever worked with to be involved in the project’, and I really do seem to have the makings of a fine piece of drama on my hands (notwithstanding my meagre directing talents). Collaboration is a beautiful thing.
This then raises a question in my mind i.e. how much music and/or singing does a work have to have before it becomes an ‘Opera’?
Would my S,NY be an Opera, or a Play? If we put a lot of dance in would be a Ballet? Not sure this is ever a relevant question (maybe it’s just an event), until you’ve had a glass of red wine and are trying to tell a friend what you have been up to lately. ‘Opera’, ‘Ballet’, ‘Play’ etc are just labels, though audiences do have a habit of demanding a label – helps them judge how successful you have been (or in what ways you have failed). A couple of years ago I directed a version of ‘Victory Over the Sun’, a Futurist opera, written in 1913 from which hardly any of the original score remains. However we did have the libretto, added our own sounds, and utilised the rhythm and music of the voice. Was it still an opera? Yes, no, take your pick.
Back to musical thoughts.
I haven’t, up until this point in time directed a piece that had any recorded music in it. The music has always been live. However as I appear to be in a list building mood, and have been listening to a lot of music today, here are some recorded pieces that I would like to use some time in a drama – for no other reason than I heard them again today, they are all great in their own way, and like an exciting performer or idea, I want to use them some time:
Firestarter – The Prodigy
I’m New Here – Gil Scott-Heron
Metal Guru – T. REX …the original 7” version (I have seen a play that opened with this, but that’s another story)
Speaking With The Angel – Ron Sexsmith
O Gente De Minha Terra – Mariza (although I might want her to sing it live, getting greedy now)
Por Culpita Del Dinero – Juanito Valderrama
The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash
Common People – Pulp
God Is In The House – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Un Bel Di Verdremo – Puccini – Madame Butterfly
Vogliatemi Bene – Puccini – Madame Butterfly (there’s a theme developing I fear)
Cry Me A River – Julie London
Anything by Erik Satie