Re: RARA-AVIS: Hammett Opera

From: Sean Carson (
Date: 06 Mar 2000

Hi! Thanks so much for your interest. Let me answer your questions one at a time:

The music is very much "contemporary classical," if that means anything at all - imagine Bartok and Stravinsky, but a little more
"abstract" sounding. I'm probably not being clear at all, but that's because writing about music is like dancing about architecture. If you've heard of the composers Berio, Messiaen, Henze, or Imbrie, you have a general idea what I'm going for. The score also borrows heavily from late 20's jazz - especially the sound pioneered by Fletcher Henderson.

I'm working on a website which will have information on the opera as it develops, and I'll post the adaptation that I've made. The part being performed is based on the chapter called "Laudanum." When the website is up and running, I'll send you an email.

Right now, I'm working on a score which will be for 7 instruments and 6 singers (the Op, Dinah, Willsson, Noonan, Whisper, & a hybrid of the other gangsters who I haven't named yet), and it should be about an hour and fifteen minutes long. I'm thinking of it as a "chamber opera," meaning that it would be unstaged - singers just standing and performing their parts. This minimalist aproach is to raise the chances that some group will want to play it. On the other hand, if the Met taps me on the shoulder and offers me a commission, who am I to say no to making a large-scale version for full orchestra and a cast of thousands?

I'm hoping that by a year from now I can get at least a few more scenes performed, preferably with the full group of instruments. There will be a CD of the upcoming April concert, but it will only be about 10 minutes of music. I'll post info on the website when it's available, in case anyone is interested.

Thanks again for your interest, and please keep in touch.


On Fri, 3 Mar 2000, William Denton wrote:

++On 3 March 2000, Sean Carson wrote:
++: I've been working on an opera based on Hammett's _Red Harvest_. A
++: scaled-down version of one scene will be premiered at the end of
++: April. If you're in New York, please come check it out!
++What an amazing idea. What is the music like? Could you show us the
++libretto for the part being performed? How do you imagine a full-scale
++production would look? Do you think it'll get a full performance, and
++will you try to cut a CD? I'd certainly want one. I'm sure we'd all be
++interested in hearing how you came to write it, how you felt Hammett and
++opera worked together, influences that were important to the work, etc.
++William Denton : Toronto, Canada : : Caveat lector.
++# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
++# The web pages for the list are at .

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