THE SYSTEM OF SOOTHING
BELIEVE NOTHING YOU HEAR, AND ONLY HALF OF WHAT YOU SEE
Libretto curated by the composer, utilizing the works of Edgar Allan Poe
OFFICIAL SELECTION - 2017 Fort Worth Opera FRONTIERS showcase.
A young doctor’s investigation into a new method of treating the mentally insane reveals a thin line between reality and a terrifying masquerade. Based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, The System of Soothing balances precariously on the observation that one person’s madness is another’s normalcy. A devastating conclusion drives home the warning echoed throughout the opera: “believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see!”
VENUE, CASTING, & ORCHESTRATIONS
THE SYSTEM OF SOOTHING is a 90-minute opera in three acts, with the option of one intermission.
Cast of Characters
THE TRAVELLER, a young doctor (tenor)
THE OLD DOCTOR, Traveller’s acquaintance (bass-baritone)
DR. COLIN MAILLARD, head of St. Dymphna’s Asylum (baritone)
JENNIE, Maillard’s daughter (soprano)
Chorus of Guests - patients at St. Dymphna’s Asylum.
If a larger chorus is used, these soloists may come from the chorus, or be cast separately.
A woman who thinks she is a BIRD (coloratura soprano)
A woman who thinks she is a bottle of CHAMPAGNE (soprano)
PETIT GAILLARD, who thinks she is a frog (mezzo-soprano)
MADAME JOYEUSE, who thinks she is a rooster (mezzo-soprano)
A man who thinks he is a TEAPOT (character tenor)
A man who thinks he is a DONKEY (character tenor)
BOUFFON LE GRAND, a two-headed orator (baritone)
A man who thinks he is a GRANDFATHER CLOCK (baritone)
Chamber casting option - Eight singers
- Four principal roles
- Four chorus/secondary characters: BIRD/CHAMPAGNE (coloratura soprano), GAILLARD/JOYEUSE (mezzo-soprano), TEAPOT/DONKEY (character tenor), BOUFFON/CLOCK (baritone)
Six-piece chamber ensemble (Pierrot ensemble plus percussion)
13 - piece chamber orchestra (similar to Britten's chamber operas)
Large pit orchestra (similar to Ravel's L'enfant et les Sortilege)
The action takes place in, and around, St. Dymphna’s, a private institution for the insane.
from the staged peformance by Boston Opera Collaborative
Cast and creative team from the 2017 FRONTIERS showcase.
Commissioned by Bent Wit Cabaret
First public reading (Cabaret version with chamber ensemble)
Bent Wit Cabaret
August 8, 2010 – Oberon – Cambridge, Massachusetts
First staged performance (Original version with piano)
Boston Opera Collaborative
October 30, 2011 – Oberon – Cambridge, Massachusetts
2017 FRONTIERS New Works Showcase
Fort Worth Opera
May 3, 2017 - McDavid Studio - Fort Worth, Texas