In an effort to keep everyone informed, I thought I’d write about the problems I’m experiencing in making a new song for Diego and Sofia in Act II work the way it should work.
Picture this: we are in the aviary of Don Victor Blanco. Diego has snuck away from the Blanco Ball in an effort to finally secure the two passenger pigeons for his Patron (Edward Nelson). Unbeknownst to him, both Sofia and Don Victor’s son, Carlos, have followed him separately into the aviary. It is a remarkable and beautiful scene in The Mapmaker’s Opera novel as well by Béa Gonzalez.
With Sofia’s presence revealed, our young protaganists start to explore the aviary. The scope and size of Don Victor’s avian collection is breathtaking. Sofia stares in wonderment and begins to reveal some of her innermost thoughts, not at first realising what she is saying. OK, all good so far. You’d think this would be a joy to write – and I thought it would be – but so far, I have discarded more drafts of the song than I would like to admit! It’s just tough to solve.
Why? Well, because if characters are going to sing, there has to be a reason, and through their ‘singing’ we need to move the story forward and reveal something about characterisaton, plot and storyline that we have not previously been privy to. So why is this not working? Well actually it is now, but it has taken me a long time to resolve whether two people can sing in the same scene, ostensibly to one another, but still remain disconnected by their own thoughts and personal concerns. Frankly, it’s a tough lyric assignment to boot, especially when music is coming first in this instance.
How does such a problem get solved? Firstly and foremostly, it is entirely useful to have a collaborator with whom you can throw ideas backward and forward; without predjudice, in an effort to find the key that unlocks the door to the roadblock. I can assure everyone that Victor and I have done this on numerous occasions.
The other way is to just be quiet. Don’t force the issue, just let the subconscious work with you. In the end it is about the ‘truth’ of the moment. It’s not necessarily a musical number that is designed to lift-the-roof-off the theatre (although that is always helpful in the right context) but about audiences being allowed to ‘feel’ the drama in the moment and therein carry them forward into the next stage of the story.
It will be finished soon.
Kevin (from Chicago)