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I’ve arranged this recital by language. We’ll start with Italian operatic arias, head north
to Germany for Schubertian Lieder, and then travel west over the border to explore four
different composers’ settings of a Paul Verlaine poem that he wrote while in prison. From
there, we’ll leave mainland Europe and cross the English Channel for an extended stay in the
United Kingdom.
Section one: I portray men from three different operas:
1. Don Giovanni: a libertine nobleman whose favorite pastime is seducing
2. Banco: Macbeth’s friend and fellow Scotch general in the army of King
Duncan. This opera is based on Shakespeare’s demonstration of the
effects of political ambition on those who seek power for its own sake. It
seems appropriate in our current political landscape to look closely at
themes such as this. Macbeth has murdered his king, and has Banco
murdered at the close of this aria.
3. Figaro: Count Almaviva’s servant and Susanna’s fiancé. Figaro is angry,
afraid that Susannah is having a secret affair with the Count.
Section two: Schubert was an extremely prolific writer of German Lieder. I chose "An
die Musik" because of its beautiful simplicity, "Erlkönig" because it challenges me as a
storyteller, and "Heliopolis" based on its lyrics. In my own songwriting, I strive to be the poet
finding the right word because of the storm.
Section three: I first ran across Fauré's “Prison” in my undergraduate vocal studies at
West Virginia University. I wrote at the time:
My younger brother is in prison right now. He received a three year sentence for
sharing some of his marijuana with someone he thought was a friend. This person turned
out to be a narc. Now taxpayers are funding my brother's stay in jail. I was also arrested,
cuffed, and spent the night on cement slabs in holding cells when a friend of mine left a tiny
amount of marijuana in my car and a cop found it when he pressured me into a search. The
law labels us criminals. It is hard for me to have respect for such a law.

Section four: The prophet Haggai wrote the words that were canonized as scripture,
translated into English, and used by Handel and Adams in their sacred oratorios Messiah and El
Niño. Interestingly, both composers assigned the words to the bass voice.
This brings us to the second half of the program, Ralph Vaughan Williams’s The House
of Life, based on six (of 102) sonnets from Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s sonnet-sequence of the
same name. In my research, I found that Dante’s younger brother, William Michael Rossetti,
also his biographer, wrote a prose paraphrase of the entire sequence to help readers understand
the sonnets. After the translation of the foreign language pieces in this printed program, I’ve
included a selection from William’s prose paraphrase of The House of Life.