FLOWN, a Chamber Opera in Four Movements
Instrumentation: Soprano, Baritone, Violin, Cello, 2 Pianos and Percussion Instruments
Duration: 1 hour
In 2008, Music-Theatre Group commissioned me to compose a series of works that pondered the boundary of concert music and chamber opera. In other words, I was faced with a challenge to “show” narratives through the abstract lens of instrumental music in the presence of the most natural narrative expression: vocal music.
The outcome was FLOWN, an evening of playing and singing which meditates on two lovers who must part. I caught this title in the wind when it hit me that young love can be so temperamental! Sometimes, it overwhelms. Sometimes, it simply flies away.
The direct source of inspiration comes from my collaborator Steve Ross Smith. I was a resident composer at the Banff Centre in the Summer of 2008, and met Steve there at a reading of his poetry. His words sounded like music without music and I was intrigued. I introduced myself to him and we immediately began discussing ideas for FLOWN.
Although the structure of FLOWN was already in place at that time, I insisted that Steve record his libretto ideas without concern about form. I begged for his forgiveness if I would later have to alter his words to better fit the flow of my music.
FLOWN begins with a solo Serenade on loneliness and regret. It provokes memories of the lovers’ early encounters in “Game for Two”, a piano duo that spans from flirtation to clash. The center piece “In Wind They Cleave” laments details of the parting with vivid singing from both lovers, accompanied by the complete ensemble. Percussion duo “Dance for Two” concludes the parting in hope and celebration of love.
Contact Wang Jie to inquire about the score