Notes before starting an opera

Begin anywhere.

This evening, I’ll be jumping into the my fifth opera, a one act about five interconnected women playing poker badly, and trying to peg each other’s tells, also badly.  I’m listening to Monk and Ahmad Jamal for some reason.  I don’t anticipate that it will play a part in the writing, but one can never tell, and it wouldn’t be the worst idea ever.  There’s a great Spinal Tap skit where they’re talking about Jazz and how unpredictable it is and with all the wrong notes, it’s just “an accident waiting to happen.” I think about that when I listen to Monk and chuckle.  Why does Monk remind me of Ives, but not the other way around?

I used to obsess over My Process.  Actually, “obsess” isn’t strong enough a word.  What’s stronger than “obsess?” I used to worship the theoretical liturgy that was “My Process.” Everything had to happen in a precise order, or the outcome was going to be an accident that had been waiting to happen.

Standing next to me, trying to get in my lap so that she may bang on my laptop, or better yet, so that she may demand to see pictures of puppies, is nearly 19 months of wiggle that laughs in the face of My Process. “Quit fussing and get to work,” she says, “But first – make with the puppies until I am satisfied, which will be never.”

We took a mini-vacation this summer to visit family and friends in England. While there, we stayed a few nights in the home of the aforementioned wiggle’s Godmother in beautiful Cambridge. Wiggle’s GM is a scholar of the highest order, and her house – filled to brimming with books on all topics – was an overwhelming source of inspiration. Therein was found the source material for a major double song cycle now on the docket, a fascinating psychological exploration of a near death experience in 24 parts, which has furthered my thought process in non-linear storytelling, and, pinned to a corkboard next to her desk (from which she spins books, articles, and lectures on any number of topics of which she is an authority) was a scrap of paper with two words: “Begin Anywhere.”

In the ruins of the Temple of My Process lies this scrap of paper.

Let us pray.


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