Philip Glass' 'Appomattox' to have world premiere in San Francisco
By Jesse Hamlin
San Francisco Chronicle
Sept. 23, 2007
Philip Glass was a young boy in Baltimore when all the men in
the family went off to serve in World War II. "My memory of the
war is the women, the sorrow of women, the anxiety of women,"
says the celebrated composer, whose new opera, "Appomattox,"
delves into the final days of the bloody Civil War and the nature
of the two opposing generals who crafted the surrender that ended
the slaughter. Glass bookends the piece with a prologue and
epilogue sung solely by women, among them the wives of Robert
E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln, and former slave
Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln's psychic seamstress.
Commissioned by the San Francisco Opera, where it premieres Oct.
5, "Appomattox" centers on the historic meeting of Grant and Lee
on April 9, 1865, in Wilbur McLean's brick home in the Virginia
town of Appomattox Court House. But it also spirals into the
future. In Act 2, the main action is intercut with scenes of
racial strife from the Reconstruction and civil rights eras,
which Glass and librettist Christopher Hampton see as the fallout
from the nation-rending conflict that killed more than 600,000
"The Civil War is the biggest story we have. It's our story,
America's story," Glass says. Grant and Lee spoke of reconciliation,
"but what they were hoping for didn't happen. The civil rights
movement grew out of the Civil War, there's no question about
it. The war never really ended."
An energetic man with blue eyes and tousled brown hair, he's
sitting on a couch at the Opera House in a green shirt and black
trousers, answering questions and asking a few. He riffs for an
hour on his new work and the far-ranging projects and collaborators
- Allen Ginsberg, Twyla Tharp, Paul Simon, Yo-Yo Ma, Ravi Shankar,
West African musician Foday Musa Suso and others - that have
kept his fires burning for decades.
Glass's 70th birthday is being celebrated in the Bay Area with
a string of performances and events honoring the prolific composer,
whose catalog includes more than 20 operas, among them the
landmark 1976 "Einstein on the Beach," a poetic abstraction
created with director-designer Robert Wilson, and the stirring
1980 work about Gandhi's nonviolent struggle, "Satyagraha." He's
written symphonies, concertos, string quartets and dozens of
film scores, from Errol Morris documentaries to features like
"The Hours" and "Notes on a Scandal." ...
[log in to unmask]
The CLASSICAL mailing list is powered by L-Soft's renowned LISTSERV(R)
list management software together with L-Soft's HDMail High Deliverability
Mailer for reliable, lightning fast mail delivery. For more information,
go to: http://www.lsoft.com/LISTSERV-powered.html