Baltasar and Blimunda

Presented as part of ARTSaha 2004

September 12, 2004

First Central Congregational Church

Omaha, NE


Set on the glimmering patio of the First United Church, the keynote concert of ARTSaha 2004 featured the world premieres of Rudolf Kamper's Baltasar and Blimunda, a chamber oratorio based on the novel by Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago that follows the bizarre adventures of an amputee and a psychic, and Reece Dano's Pierre Boulez Is Dead.

 

PROGRAM

Reece Dano, C#DG#BEC# G#F #D#ECD# [Pierre Boulez Is Dead]*

Stephen Bouma, Recordare

Stephen Bouma, Fugue in C#

John Wilbye, Adieu, sweet Amaryllis (arr. R. Kamper)

Rudolf Kamper, Baltasar and Blimunda*

*world premiere

PERSONNEL

Stephen Bouma, narrator

Christina Carr, mezzo-soprano

Jim Compton, bassoon

Joe Drew, trumpet

Carmelo Galante, clarinet

Nestor Herzsbaum, flute

Marcia Kamper, flute

Rudolf Kamper, trumpet

John Klinghammer, conductor

Thomas Kluge, viola

Anne Madison, piano

Christine Mehser, double bass

Amy Sims, violin

 

PROGRAM NOTES

C#DG#BEC# G#F #D#ECD# - Reece Dano writes: "The title of the piece is the initial melody, which is a code stating "Pierre Boulez is dead!" The piece consists of four very short movements with the first three movements featuring a cacophony of agitated and contrapuntal lines based on commercial jingles and The Greatest Hits of the Baroque. It attempts to mimic the 20th-Century art music scene's disgust with the reality of American pop culture -- in general, the thinking man's fear of our base instincts. The fourth movement concludes with a reworking of Machaut's rondeau, "Rose, liz, printemps, verdure" -- celebrating a return to a non-neurotic embrace of life."

Stephen Bouma writes: "Recordare is a recasting of a poem by Christina Rossetti called “Remember.” It uses free counterpoint and chromatic harmony in a style reminiscent of Roger Quilter, a popular composer of English art songs. Recordare was written to be performed at the senior recital by Sara Cowan, who had a significant impact upon the first year of our daughter’s life.

Fugue in C# is a formal exercise in Baroque counterpoint. It can be performed by any grouping of four standard instruments. In this rendition we are using two strings and two double reeds for color. The subject of this fugue, while simple, is effectively malleable in several ways. Its exact inversion implies as strong harmonies to the original statement. Also, the subject works well in strettos offset by one, two and four beats. Finally, the extension and fragmentation of the counter subject creates opportunities for contrasting colors and imitative ensemble playing."

The text for John Wilbye’s madrigal Adieu, sweet Amaryllis:

 

Oh Heart! My Heart!
I shall see you in the crowd
Fair Blimunda
Look for your mother
To see you with eyes of mine
They gagged me, but mine eyes see
At last my heart!
At last my love!
I see you in the crowd!
She has seen
Seen me
Oh my Heart!
Oh Blimunda sweet adieu!

Baltasar and Blimunda is a chamber oratorio based on the characters in Jose Saramago's book of the same name. This piece is the first of a series of episodes investigating the characters in the book.



Synopsis:
Scene I, Baltasar

Baltasar, the soldier is also called Sete-Sois or “Seven-Suns.” He is discharged from the front after losing his hand in battle. interlude After buying a hook and spike to replace his hand, Baltasar journeys home. His trip home to Portugal is beset with hardship and poverty.

Scene II, Auto-da-fe (Sebastiana and her daughter Blimunda)
Sebastiana, mother of Blimunda, is tied to the stake at one of the Office of the Holy Inquisition's stake burnings. In her final moments she has a conversation with herself about why she stands accused of heresy. She also is searching the crowd for her daughter Blimunda. Finally, she sees Blimunda standing next to the family friend Padre Bartolomeu who eventually consoles Blimunda after her mother's passing. Finally, Baltasar and Blimunda meet in the dispersing crowd.

Scene III, Domenico Scarlatti and Padre Bartolomeu
We leave Baltasar and Blimunda for the moment to find Padre Bartolomeu at the palace of the King of Portugal. He has a conversation with the court musician Domenico Scarlatti. Later that night Domenico Scarlatti plays the harpsichord alone while the entire town of Portugal hears the music. interlude The next morning Baltasar wonders about Blimunda's unusual qualities.

Scene IV, The Passarola
Padre Bartolomeu introduces Baltasar to his flying machine. He shows Baltasar the half-finished shell and his designs for the outlandish contraption.

to be continued...