Messiaen and Saariaho: Operatic Underdogs Portraying God Through Chorus

Tom Service’s interview with Kaija Saariaho reveals where the composer found the inspiration and courage to compose an opera, stating “I don’t feel like an operatic composer” (13), but “it was the same with Messiaen’s opera [St. François d’Assise] which gave me confidence to write my first opera, L’Amour de loin” (8). Likewise, Siglind Bruhn…

Musical Analysis of “Non par Notre Seigneur” from Saariaho’s L’amour de Loin

Kaija Saariaho’s L’amour de Loin (“Love from Afar”) tells the tale of the romance between Jaufré Rudel, a French prince and troubadour, and Clémence, the Countess of Tripoli. Their love occurs “from afar” because Jaufré insists that he’s fallen for Clémence merely after hearing of her existence through a traveling pilgrim, who becomes the messenger…

Einstein on the Beach: Creators’ Intentions and Audience Reactions

Anyone who sticks around long enough to see half of Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach is likely either intrigued and wants to analyze and understand it, or accepts it as it is and is comfortable with its ambiguity and eccentricity. It is a work made up exclusively of what Glass calls “repetitive structures.” Every…

The “American” Sound: Indigenous Influences Need Not Apply

By the early twentieth century, the United States was arguably best-known for being a “melting pot”: Its citizens had come from all over the world. It was also, in the grand scheme of human history, a country still in its infancy. Most national aesthetic identities have been cultivated over the course of millennia, or at…

A Finale Without Finality

After reading a detailed synopsis of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, I was immediately struck by the story’s ending. After learning that Bess has gone to New York with Sportin’ Life, Porgy is determined to find her and bring her back to Catfish Row. He orders a goat cart and prays, stating that he trusts god to…

The Necessity of Inclusion in Perspectives on Race in “Porgy and Bess”

In chapter six of his book George Gershwin, Larry Starr discusses the innumerable components of the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess that make it such a bold, brilliant, and provocative work. Chief among these components is that the opera calls for an all-black cast of characters — an unprecedented phenomenon. In the year of Porgy…