- Río de Sangre is an important new opera full of wonderful
things. In this age of operas based on movies, plays, novellas or news
stories, we have here a rare bird: an original plot and libretto.
- Don Davis has a personal musical style that is unmistakably his own,
ranging from a wide array of tonalities to written-out jazz. Some parts
are very colorful; others are simple and spare. To some degree, I would
call it 21st Century Impressionism. Like Der Rosenkavalier, there
is a great deal of atmospheric writing that requires delicate playing
from the orchestra, especially in tutti passages, so they dont
overwhelm the singers. At other points, there is fine writing for solo
instruments. The opera is beautifully orchestrated.
- It is wonderful to be doing another world premiere and a privilege
to be doing the Florentines first. The privilege derives from
more than my affection for the company. The Florentine is bringing its
high standards to bear on this production including, of course, the
bedrock support from the world-class Milwaukee Symphony. But this honor
is at least doubled, because Río is truly a grand
opera. This may be a matter of degree, to be sure. But this work is
more ambitious than many other contemporary works. It is undeniably
grand in its scope and significance.
- One of the more wonderful aspects of the music for me and other students
of composition is that Don Davis uses diverse styles but the music never
sounds eclectic. This is because the music so perfectly reflects the
drama. The audience can only perceive the work as all of a piece, very
much an organic whole. This is no small achievement.
- The music serves this story admirably from scene to scene, including
crowd scenes as well as more intimate moments. There is even a nightclub
scene which provides some hot Latin jazz, with the band on stage. This
integration of music that is part of the storyplaying outside
the pitis a time-honored tradition since the inception of what
we call grand opera. This is, in a sense, an homage to Mozart,
Verdi, Richard Strauss, and other great composers for lyric theater.
- Mr. Davis uses a Wagnerian technique as well: except for the choral
scenes, most of the opera consists of dialogues between characters.
Apart from one scene where the young lovers sing together, there are
no real duets, trios or vocal ensembles.
- It is a tremendously challenging work for all involved, and Im
having a wonderful time preparing it.
- The characters development is embedded in the music as much
as in the libretto. The five leading roles require top-notch musicianssingers
of the highest order, which we have in this production, able to project
in the widest possible range and to handle very complex rhythms. And
they need powerful acting skills, which we also have in this production.
- This is the most difficult piece Ive worked on since Der
Rosenkavalierand worth the effort. The score is rhythmically
very complex. Its hard for the singers, too, in that, apart from
a few romantic scenes, where the music is simpler, the vocal parts mostly
are not doubled by the orchestra. So each singer really has to know
his or her part independent of whats happening in the pit.