PHOTOS INSIDE! Dr. David Vayo and Nancy Steele Brokaw presented their creative collaborative project, the opera Fertile Ground (coming to IWU this spring), and answered questions about the project.
On Tuesday night, February 16th, at 8pm, Tributaries had the good fortune to host Dr. David Vayo and Nancy Steele Brokaw for our February Faculty Feature Event. Together they led all in attendance through some specific examples of how they created the opera and why they did so that way, to give us a sense of the process of creation.
However, the session was much more than a blow-by-blow how-to guide about their opera Fertile Ground. The audience was then blessed with the breath-taking performances of three of the student-stars in the opera: Cassie Coliagnese, Paul Cochran, and Sarah Kedzie. Each cast member seemed to share the dedication to honesty that Brokaw and Vayo said was central to the construction of this opera. All three are incredibly talented vocalists, to be sure, but each of them was complimented beautifully by the talented Dr. Susan Klotzbach, who will be playing the piano accompaniment for the entire opera.
The opera centers around the story of a small Illinois farming family, and the disappearance of the youngest girl in the family, Liddy. Brokaw says that she worked very consciously to create an authentic voice for each of her characters, especially through the dialog. Sarah Kedzie echoed this concept when she said, "The characters are intensely real, with real baggage and real feelings." Brokaw then warned those in the audience that true honesty and authenticity is not so simple. However, the level and depth of collaboration was quite high. So, when Dr. Vayo was handed the text of the Opera, the document was still very much open to changes which strengthened its realism.
When working with the shifting text of Fertile Ground, Dr. Vayo found himself creating what he described as a hybrid piece, between the genres of musical and opera. In this highly free environment, Dr. Vayo was free to compose the music for the show, which Cassie Coliagnese probably best described when she said, "This music has a steep learning curve."
After a few of the songs were presented and the questions were coming to an end, Vayo and Brokaw were each asked to give one piece of advice that they think writers entering this genre should know. Dr. Vayo said, "Be honest in every way." Brokaw said, "Know your characters very well way before you start writing. Don't make the mistake of other young writers and plunge in too soon." Immediately thereafter, they both made sure to reiterate one thing that we heard from Dr. Theune and Chip Corwin about collaborative effort at the beginning of the year: "Be flexible."
Thanks, as always, are in order for the following people: Dr. Vayo, Nancy Steele Brokaw, Cassie Coliagnese, Sarah Kedzie, Paul Cochran, Dr. Klotzbach, the IWU Music Deparment, Presser Hall and its crew, LGPRT, Tributaries staff, English Department, and everyone who attended the event.
Don't forget: TONGUE AND INK 2010, MARCH 26-27!!!! Be there!