In Act V of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a group of local craftsmen who believe themselves great actors perform the Pyramus and Thisbe story at a wedding reception. Shakespeare's text allows plenty of room for overacting, with the guests and royal family frequently interrupting with advice for improving the story and its execution.
This rock opera extracts the monologues from Shakespeare’s script, and sets them to “Beatlesque” music (except the one that feels more like The Who). One challenge was to find song forms in a text written with no concern for singing. While songs typically have structures based around verses and a chorus, Shakespeare’s lines ravel on with little or no repetition. That many of the soliloquies are interrupted by heckling from the wedding guests made finding pop song forms even more of a challenge. In other words, this project was a blast!
Another challenge was finding ways to make the opera sound like a unified whole. Without getting too detailed, suffice it to say that many of the musical motives and themes reappear in several songs. If you’re up for some fun, listen for two in particular: the tune at the beginning of the chorus of “If We Offend,” and the “Donkey Theme” first heard in Act III when Bottom is turned into an ass (Track 11, “The Ousel Cock”).
Although a few directors have set this magical romp in the 1960s, this is the first version to transform the "play within a play" in Act V into a rock opera.
M E Z Z O is an in-progress musical (book by Stepahnie Sandberg, score by David Fuentes).
The demo tracks here were recorded after a week-long workshop of the play in New York City during August of 2017.
Mezzo is born from the question, “Can an artist who is willing to sacrifice anything for her art surrender her ambition?” Liana," an opera singer. struggles to perfect her craft and make a name for herself. Along the way, she develops cancer, though won't tell friends or family because she fears that treatment will severely alter her voice. Her dark night of the soul is illumined by profound encounters with the music of 12th-century mystic and saint Hildegard von Bingen. Over the course of the play, we watch Liana's focus shift from seeking thunderous applause to finding something more spiritually essential to motivate her to sing.