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After Life

 

Chamber Opera in One Act

 

Libretto by David Mason

Music by Tom Cipullo

 

Duration: ca.50 minutes

Commissioned by Music of Remembrance (Mina Miller, Artistic Director)

Premiered at Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington on May 11, 2015

 

Characters

                       

   Gertrude Stein                                                 mezzo-soprano

Pablo Picasso                                                  baritone

Young Woman, a victim of the Holocaust       soprano

 

 

Instrumentation

flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano

 

 

 Synopsis

 

          After Life imagines a post-mortem reunion of Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein. Stein believes her beloved Alice Toklas has conjured her back to life, while Picasso wonders which of his many lovers has called him up from the abyss. When both realize, to their disappointment, that their great loves are not present, the two towering figures discuss their lives, their complex relationship, and, in particular, their activities during the Second World War. Their outsize egos clash, resentment between them boils over, and, as they confront each other, a third voice rises from the darkness. A young girl, a victim of the Holocaust, appears, and it is her questioning that has brought Stein and Picasso back from the dead.  Why did she die while they lived on?  Can the two artists, whose work endures, ever know death as she does? Who will remember her, when she barely remembers herself?

 

 

After Life is available from Naxos Records in its American Opera Classics series. 

 

 

After Life is the winner of the 2017-2018 Dominick Argento Chamber Opera Composition Prize

from the National Opera Association.  

 

 

Reviews

 

"devastatingly effective... Cipullo shows himself to be a natural master of writing for the voice." 

                                                                 Thomas May, Bachtrack     May 12, 2015

 

 

"Cipullo's music, unfailingly inventive, is mostly in an appealingly varied extended tonal language,

but during appropriate passages he provides the angular, driving dissonances one might expect from

an opera about these two avatars of modernism.  Cipullo cycles nimbly through the full spectrum

of emotions Stein and Picasso provoke in each other, unfailingly setting Mason's illuminating

and provocative libretto so it can be declaimed with great clarity." 

                                                                       Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News, July 2016

 

 

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“Cipullo’s ever-compelling musical score, which conveys the contradictory complexity of the two artists and the aching innocence of the Parisian girl with such potent authenticity…  Cipullo shapes his melodic phrases with an uncannily perceptive ear for each character’s profile and personality, and the harmonic language beneath is an exquisite kaleidoscope of colors. The chamber orchestra accompaniment is a bold yet never overbearing presence, and it serves up every emotional flavor this story requires, from biting pain and bitter tragedy to transcendent beauty and stirring hope.”

                                                                        Gregory Berg, Journal of Singing

                                                                        November 1, 2016

 

“...a compelling hour of musical theater.” 

                                                                        Alice Bloch, Seattle Gay News

                                                                        May 15, 2015

         

                                                                       

 

 

“from verbally combative and scathingly accusatory to contemplative and reflective, with music that soars and roars, sears and weeps—the music is by Tom Cipullo, the libretto by David Mason—this imaginatively conceived hypothetical meeting is operatic in both the most elevated, and most elemental sense of the word.”

                                                                        Leslie Weisman, DC Metro Theater Arts

                                                                        April 5, 2016

 

 

 

Recent Productions

 

Opera Colorado (2019)

Chelsea Opera  (New York) (2019)

Boston University Fringe Festival (2018)

University of North Texas  (2018)

Loyola University, New Orleans and the National Opera Association (2018)

UrbanArias (Washington D.C.) (2016)

 

 

After Life is published by E.C. Schirmer.