The Flying Machine: The Development of an Opera

Publication Year



theatre, opera, composition, performance studies, development and analysis, piano score


Composition | Creative Writing | Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | Music | Music Performance | Performance Studies | Theatre and Performance Studies


When, in the early weeks of September, 1968, Mr. Rudolph Picardi, director of the University of Redlands Opera Workshop, approached me with the proposal that I compose a short, operatic work for production by that organization as a portion of their Interim (January, 1969) program, I was rather skeptical of my ability to complete work on such a composition, rather a lengthy work compared to most of what I had composed in my short career as a composition major, in the scant four months until January. When Mr. Picardi instructed me further that the piano score, needed for rehearsal by the singers, should be finished by not later than the middle of November, I felt genuinely frightened! Yet, the realization bore heavily upon me that such an opportunity was indeed a marvelous one; how often, after all, does the undergraduate student-composer have the opportunity to write a piece of large design, demanding comparatively great resources for its successful production (orchestra, singers, staging, lighting, and a spate of incidentals that would be unlikely to affect the performance of, say, a pianoforte composition), with the assurance that upon completion the work will go immediately into production? I realized, even before I had overtly decided to agree to the composition of an operatic work, that I must so decide, if only for my conscience' sake.

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