• John Harbison
  • Darkbloom: Overture for an Imagined Opera (2004)

  • Associated Music Publishers Inc (World)
  • 3(pic).2+ca.3(bcl).3(cbn)/4.2.2.1/timp.3perc/pf.hp/str
  • 7 min

Programme Note

Composer Note:

DARKBLOOM: OVERTURE FOR AN IMAGINED OPERA is what persists of an opera project I chose not to continue. I am as reluctant as any artist to part with good material and… I am very fortunate to be able to collect up strands of the music in this overture.

Vivian Darkbloom is a secondary character in a famous and infamous American novel. I borrowed DARKBLOOM as a title because it effectively conjures up the mood of this overture. It serves as an emblem or anagram for the complex tragicomic spirit of the story and its author.

The overture begins with a theme, actually a weave of themes, associated with the male protagonist. Soon a long melody with simple accompaniment, allied with the young female lead, spins out until interrupted by a brief obsessive dramatic interlude, which concludes by alluding to the music of the opening.

Then comes a short balletic scene, in which two young women play tennis, interrupted by laughter, and eventually invaded by the observing, controlling presence of the man. The opening music is then, for the only time, elaborated, until replaced by the long melody, attenuated, interrupted by the obsessive outburst again, eventually dissolving into a frail epiphany.

— John Harbison

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