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Anthony Davis

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Tania (1992)
G Schirmer Inc
Opera and Music Theatre
Year Composed
1 Hours 30 Minutes
Soprano, Bass, Mezzo soprano, Tenor, 2 male, 4 female
Programme Note
Anthony Davis Tania (1992)
Loosely based on the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst in 1974 by the Symbionese Liberation Army, this opera examines the loss and destruction of an identity and the collapse of an established social structure. Patty was held captive for over four weeks, blindfolded and imprisoned in a closet. In the after-shock of her abduction, mesmerised by a combination of fear, terror, curiosity and exhilaration, she decided to join the radicals, adopting the alias ‘Tania’. Eventually apprehended, Hearst was tried, convicted and imprisoned, despite her claim that she had been brainwashed.
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The starting point of Davis's musical style is jazz, blues, pop-songs and Latin-American rhythms. The cunning and inspired staging of Paola Viano, never afraid of a bit of eroticism, helped the singers [create] an intense identification with their roles. [With] the perfection of the musicians conducted by Huw Rhys James, the orchestra of Musikwerkstatt Wien presented the opera with great smoothness, as the musicians easily intoned effortless "dirty" and off-beat swings. The result of the evening was one of flexibility, wit, and a never-ending source of inspiration.
Laszlo Molnar, Salzburger Nachrichten,1/1/0001
Anthony Davis's TANIA [is] his surreal, jazz-influenced operatic fantasia on the 1974 Patty Hearst abduction saga, [which] received its premiere in Philadelphia in 1992 at the American Music Theater Festival (now known as Prince Music Theatre)...this recording [is] now available nine years after the piece's first performance. It was worth the wait. TANIA, which has a libretto by Michael John La Chiusa, re-imagines the bizarre events of the Hearst abduction as an over-the-top, partly satirical montage....Events and circumstances - pre- and post-abduction - resonate with each other... Davis, who first achieved prominence as a jazz pianist and composer, writes in a fully modernist mode that is winningly underlaid by grooves ranging from fusion to samba. The harmonies and melodies even at their most astringent, remain quite compelling with the beat as a point of reference. Davis always seems to be monitoring the proceedings with his shrewd ear... Under the leadership of Rand Steiger, the 16 superb musicians in the orchestra deliver stellar ensemble and individual performances...[and] the musical interludes feature several dazzling instrumental solos...
Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News,1/1/0001
The Patricia Hearst kidnapping in 1974 and the horrific events that followed utterly mesmerized the country while they were happening...the television stations carried the story relentlessly [including] Hearst's capture, trial and imprisonment, and [when she was] later pardoned. The libretto is difficult to summarize quickly, [because] the action in TANIA [is non-linear]. The way the real events are transformed is ingenious. Davis has an extensive background in jazz [and] in classical music, [but] Davis's music is his own. There is nothing in the least self-conscious about the music: the idiom flows naturally and very effectively, and the merging of classically oriented vocalism with jazz-based instrumental writing is nothing short of brilliant. The band is a joy to listen to from start to finish. [And] Davis's very strenuous vocal writing requires the very best singing actors. I am sure the work is amazing onstage, but even without the visuals it provides a compelling listening experience. This is an important, fascinating piece.
John Story, Fanfare,1/1/0001
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