Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Bass-baritone, Bass
THE MOTHER: Soprano. Avid, elegant.
THE BRIDE: Mezzo-soprano. Wry, ambivalent.
THE CELEBRANT: Tenor. Glib, daft.
THE GROOM: Baritone. Earnest, haunted.
THE GHOST: Bass-baritone. Cool, steadfast.
The wedding morning.
It was Jonathan Sheffer’s idea in 1999 to recreate the Spoleto Festival’s famous 1959 evening of one-act operas that had introduced, among scores by Hindemith, Foss and others, Samuel Barber’s comedy of domestic discontent A Hand of Bridge, to a libretto by Gian-Carlo Menotti and he graciously asked me to write a new work to end the evening.
I came up with the idea of the emotions experienced on a wedding morning by an ambivalent bride, her avid mother, the haunted groom, the glib, daft celebrant, and, the ghost of the groom’s father; and, in a gesture to history, I made the groom’s father David, that large-hearted husband caught in a too-small life whom Barber scored as a baritone in A Hand of Bridge but reappears as a bass-baritone in my score.
Avow is scored for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, bass-baritone, and either piano or chamber orchestra, and is dedicated with respect and gratitude to Jonathan Sheffer: it was introduced by Eos Orchestra in New York in May 1999.