(story & libretto: Diane Garton Edie) an opera for young audiences 4 solo singers (SATB), children’s choir, and pianist; 45-50’(2018)
promotional video featuring excerpts from the 2018-2019 production by Opera for the Young:
interview about Super Storm! on NBC15 News:
score rental available soon through Opera for the Young composer's note: Usually, when I write music with words, I find a poem or text I really love and then use those words as a jumping-off point for my musical ideas. But writing Super Storm! with Diane Garton Edie was a whole different, exponentially more collaborative process, and that was incredibly thrilling for me! My favorite thing about writing a brand-new opera is getting to tailor the music specifically to the needs of the project and the performers at hand, and Super Storm! is the most I’ve ever been able to do that.
One of the first ideas Diane Garton Edie had was to make the four adult singers become superheroes specifically based on the sound of their voice. So, for example, I wrote the soprano’s music in a flexible coloratura style, and she becomes the flexible superhero Flexibella. This not only helps define the characters clearly for the audience, but brings in a wonderful educational component, where students can learn about how different singers have different strengths and diverse ways of singing.
Continuing along that theme of vocal diversity, I wanted to use this composing opportunity to de-mystify opera singing for our audience. Sometimes audiences think of opera as this big, loud, over-the-top thing that’s very different from the kind of singing you might do yourself while washing the dishes or taking a bath. And often during especially dramatic moments in Super Storm!, opera singing is just that: something huge and oversized and overwhelmingly powerful! But I also wanted there to be other kinds of singing that feel very immediate to young people: singing that’s closer to talking, singing that feels like vocal jazz, singing in close harmony like pop-music backup singers, singing in a whisper so your parents can’t hear.
The children’s choral parts are also designed educationally to achieve these same goals. Young performers sing in various modes of vocal expression: an emotionally-charged legato style in “Our Story’s Brief But Sadly True,” a lighter jazz-inflected style in “And Now You’re Down To Three,” an accented rhythmic style in “Let’s March,” and with great contrast between marcato and legato sections in “Might Does Not Make Right.” In this way, the chorus can experience what it’s like to use your voice in different ways to create different moods and characters in service of operatic storytelling.
In my music, I've always loved combining various musical genres and styles in ways that feel natural and organic, pointing out their similarities instead of their differences. Writing Super Storm! allowed Diane Garton Edie and me to bring that musical and stylistic diversity into Opera for the Young’s repertoire. By combining the beauty and power of operatic classical music with a fast-paced, complex, contemporary style, Super Storm! shows our audiences that opera is a living art form that can engage meaningfully with today’s world.