A LONG WHILE (2014)
COMMISSIONED BY: SHARON HARMS
PREMIERE: 2014-09-04 (BROOKLYN, NY)
LATEST PERFORMANCE: 2017-02-03 (CAMBRIDGE, MA)
A long while is freely assembled from the 583 words spoken by Hermione in William Shakespeare's final stage work, The Winter's Tale. The words and music were written in tandem — drawing from a reservoir of vocal, verbal, and melodic fragments whose cadence and harmony are all closely intertwined — allowing for a spontaneous approach to text setting that still retains traces of the original verse. The result is a kind of Schwanengesang for a centuries-old woman that never lived. An unusual character in an unusual play, Hermione is sentenced to death by her husband for an adultery she didn’t commit, only to come back to life after sixteen years. Much has been made of her revival (was it by magic or some other more rational means) but what about her experience over those long years? What happens to her thoughts? Her feelings? How do they transform over time? What if her solitude lasted into the present? Would her memories linger? Or would she be left in a continuously fading present? An eternal now? What is this long expense of waiting?