Four songs for Mezzo-Soprano and Piano. The songs were inspired by iconic objects in the Smithsonian with a particular connection to a former First Lady of the United States. Commissioned by Vocal Arts DC to celebrate its 25th Anniversary Season.
For baritone, men’s chorus and actor, “For A Look Or A Touch” is a story about the persecution of gay men during the Holocaust. The text is based on the true stories told in the documentary film Paragraph 175 and the journal of Manfred Lewin, from the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.
From Martin Bernheimer, The Financial Times: “The climactic finale involved the local premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Camille Claudel: Into the Fire (2011), an extensive ode to the agonised sculptor — Rodin’s lover — who died in 1943. Ever popular, obviously facile and increasingly daring, Heggie dealt sensitively with the introspective sentiments at hand. He juggled acerbic lyricism craftily with oppressive drama, adorning Gene Scheer’s text with florid wails and eerie melismas at jolting intervals. In the process, he made the primitive lamentations propulsive, the otherworldly illusions, delusions and allusions gripping. DiDonato sang the expansive solos with rare conviction and lustrous, subtly shaded tone. “
The songs are based on four transformative friendships and meetings in Francis Poulenc’s life: Wanda Landowska, Pierre Bernac, Raymonde Linossier and Paul Eluard
Commissioned by University of Kansas at Lawrence for mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle. Premiered December 5, 2005. The song cycle takes as its point of departure an array of five interesting statues that, in effect, are brought to life in these songs.
I wrote American Anthem in the late 1990s. The piece has been performed by many wonderful artists including Denyce Graves, Nathan Gunn and Norah Jones. Norah’s rendition is featured in Ken Burn’s PBS film about World War 2 entitled “The War.”
Voices from World War II is a song cycle for baritone and piano. Premiered by Nathan Gunn and Kevin Murphy at Wigmore Hall in 1998. The texts are based on 5 diverse memories from the war.