Canciones del amor desesperado
for mezzo, cello and piano
poems (in Spanish) by Federico Garcio Lorca
Approximate duration: ca.
American Opera Projects, NY
Desiree Halac, mezzo
Wolfram Kössell, cello
Elaine Rinaldi, pianist
Shortly after finishing my studies at the Mannes College of Music, I was introduced to the work of Federico Garcia Lorca by mezzo soprano Desirèe Halac, who at the time had just joined the opera studio at the school and was a roommate of friends of mine.
Desirèe possesses an incredibly endearing spontaneous enthusiasm for her close friends, regardless of how well she is acquainted with their talents. In my case, she became a staunch advocate of my compositional ability despite having heard only a tape of my Wonka Songs, and was enthralled with the idea of my writing something for her. Her first suggestion, an operatic treatment of one of Garcia-Lorca's plays, was hugely tempting but seemed impractical without some sort of promise of production, despite her conviction that we could mount it ourselves. Undaunted, Desiree urged me to get acquainted with Lorca's poetry, and I could not help but find a number of his poems perfectly suited to her elegant but fiery personality. She herself chose the four poems for use in this cycle. The cello part was conceived with her current boyfriend in mind.
The first and fourth songs were composed in one day each in the early winter of 1992, and received their first hearings on Desirèe s recital at The Mannes College of Music that April. The second song was completed shortly after this. The third, Gacela del Amor Desesperado, required longer gestation than I anticipated, and it wasn't until January of 1993 that, having muddled with it a few times in the midst of other projects, I was able to give it the full attention it deserved. The full cycle received its premiere at American Opera Projects in Manhattan's Soho district in April of that year on a concert dedicated to my work.
The four poems Desirèe chose examine different angles of a desperate, futile love: angry passion, sensual longing, obsessiveness, and hopelessness. The settings highlight those contrasts to the greatest extent possible, with the cello adding an extra layer of communication to the vocal line.