Love and Reform: a chamber operetta
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"Love and Reform" is a chamber operetta composed from a libretto written by the composer for female narrator, soprano, tenor, bass, and string quintet. The drama is an Epicurean satire concerning the imagined afterlife of recently deceased Emperor Joseph II of Austria (1765-1790). The language of the libretto combines ironically antique verbiage with a bawdiness characteristic of early French operetta. A pastiche of the light and pseudo-serious musical idioms, the music of "Love and Reform" avoids stylistic unity in favor of juxtaposing drastically different musical types for comic effect. To this end, the string ensemble often mimics other instruments and musical genres. An arpeggio figure reminiscent of continuo figuration serves as a motto to signify changes in mood or plot, and likewise, portamento figures evoke the sound of a slide guitar playing blues music. Frequent internal musical references to previously heard arias and recitative figures help to create dramatic and musical cohesion, and function like leitmotifs. The opening motive, constructed from perfect fifths moving in contrary motion by minor second, becomes symbolic of Joseph's 'suffering'. In contrast, a recurring passage constructed from common practice materials represents Joseph's 'idealism'. Jazz rhythms, blues-like harmonies, and linear chromatic writing are all prominently featured throughout the work. "Love and Reform" ends in a ghostly quotation of Beethoven's early memorial cantata "On the Death of Emperor Joseph II".
Table of Contents
Origins of the work -- Characters, instrumentation, costume and staging -- No.1: Prologue -- No.2: Here! Here lies Joseph -- No.3: Newspaper duet -- No.4: My dream -- No.5: Drink to more and worry the less -- No.6: A handsome exercise in ballad -- No.7: Once the time was kind -- No.8: Kaia's arrival -- No.9: Interlude -- No.10: Before the creation -- No.11: Oh, great void -- No.12: I ever-reach to catch a falling world -- No. 13: But what of you and Lucifer -- No. 14: King of hearts -- No. 15: Why are you tormenting Joseph -- No. 16: I must leave now -- No. 17: Epilogue