In Progress – The Mother

From Experiments in Opera co-founder and New Shorts composer, Jason Cady:

I recently finished composing a comic-opera short called The Mother. It’s about an aspiring singer-songwriter who is surprised to find out that her retired mother has learned how to play guitar and is writing songs. She is even more surprised when her mother becomes wildly successful.

I outlined the musical form before writing any of the words. The entire piece had to be less than 10 minutes long so I chose to focus on just one ABA aria. However, I interrupted it by inserting a long recitative in between the first A-section and the B-section. After the B-section, a brief instrumental passage interrupts the recapitulation of the A-section; during this time a couple of years pass in the story. The opera ends atypically with a recitative that follows the second A-section.

Composing the recitatives, I was inspired by a 1978 Rodney Dangerfield performance where his one-liners were punctuated by riffs from a big band. I created a similar texture with droll “ritornelli” interspersed between phrases from the singers and the “continuo” bass line and chords accompanying them.