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Matthew Aucoin

Publisher: AMP

Crossing (2015)
Commissioned by the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University in association with the Music-Theatre Group
Text Writer
the composer
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Opera and Music Theatre
Year Composed
1 Hour 40 Minutes
11 male singers
Bar, T, B-Bar, S
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Programme Note
Matthew Aucoin Crossing (2015)
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Short synopsis:
Crossing is an operatic fantasia based on Walt Whitman’s experiences as a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War. The opera delves into Whitman’s psyche, exploring what might have led a middle-aged New Yorker to drop everything and work in brutal conditions for years on end. Was it pure generosity, pure selflessness? Or did Whitman feel some need to escape his own life – or to know himself better by putting himself through a Dante-esque challenge?

Once in the hospital, Whitman strikes up a friendship with a volatile young soldier named John Wormley. As the war drags on, their relationship grows deeper and more complicated: Whitman never could have expected either the love or the betrayals that await him.

American Repertory Theater
-  Notes, Photos, Credits, Press
-  Program

NPR Music
-  story on Crossing and Aucoin

  • 26 MAY 2018
    Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills
    LA Opera
    Matthew Aucoin, conductor
  • 25 JUN 2017
    Abiquiu, NM
    James Onstad, tenor; Matthew Aucoin, piano
  • 29 SEP 2016
    National Opera Center, New York, NY
  • 29 MAY 2015
    Crossing World Premiere
    American Repertory Theatre with Music-Theater Group
    Shubert Theater, Boston, MA
    A Far Cry
    Rod Gilfry, Alexander Lewis, Davone Tines, Jennizer Zetlan; directed by Diane Paulus; Matthew Aucoin, conductor

Crossing is a taut, teeming and inspired work. With a libretto by Mr. Aucoin, the opera is based on the diaries of Walt Whitman from his transformative experience tending to wounded soldiers during the Civil War at makeshift hospitals on the outskirts of Washington.
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times,31/05/2015
Aucoin’s music, especially in his solo vocal writing, can be highly emotional and chromatic, often built on series of thirds or fourths, rather than stepwise or tonal melodies. Melodic lines often build up tension and then resolve with a sudden shift of register: instead of a seventh scale degree resolving to a tonic eighth (B-natural to a C in a mode based on C, by typical classical half-step motion), lines suddenly conclude by dropping a seventh or ninth.
Laura Stanfield Prichard, Boston Musical Intelligencer,30/05/2015
The piece is richly detailed, psychologically nuanced and philosophically provocative.
WBUR, Ed Siegel,30/05/2015
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