Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

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IcedNote
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Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by IcedNote » Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:51 pm

Greetings, CMGers!

So my latest commission is a substantial piece (i.e. ~30 minutes) for tenor, soprano, and chamber orchestra. The soprano is the wonderful Marlissa Hudson (!) (http://www.marlissahudson.com) and we're close to landing Charles Blandy (!!) (http://www.charlesblandy.com) as the tenor. We're also in the process of securing the ensemble, and gee whiz, are we in talks with some great groups. 8)

Anyway, the big question is about the text...as in which text I'll set. We want the text to suggest that there are two "characters" that have some kind of interaction together. This could be "lover vs. lover" or "mankind vs. fate" or "human vs. god." All sorts of interpretations are possible for what we're after. We're also looking for some kind of struggle/conflict/resolution/tension/etc. to be described and/or played out. We don't care what language it's in.

Does anything come to mind? I'm not against looking for texts--and have done a lot of that in the past!--but I just can't fathom how I'd go about searching for something like this. And if a whole bunch of things come to mind for you, we'd prefer one that's a bit darker--i.e. no setting of love letters. :x :D

Any help would be greatly appreciated! :)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

jbuck919
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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:11 pm


There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

IcedNote
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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by IcedNote » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:26 pm

jbuck919 wrote:http://allpoetry.com/poem/8453635-A_Dia ... tler_Yeats

Worth a glance, maybe.
Amazing! This definitely fits the bill. Thanks!

So yes...more like this would work. :)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

jbuck919
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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Jan 31, 2012 8:01 am

IcedNote wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:http://allpoetry.com/poem/8453635-A_Dia ... tler_Yeats

Worth a glance, maybe.
Amazing! This definitely fits the bill. Thanks!

So yes...more like this would work. :)

-G
It's just lucky that I happened to know that. You need to consult a literature prof. Perhaps Harold Bloom is available for a fee. :)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by John F » Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:41 am

Here's a very different dialogue poem, which has already been set to music by several 19th century composers - Loewe's version is the best known:

Edward

“Why does your sword so drip with blood,
Edward, Edward?
Why does your sword so drip with blood,
And why so sad go ye, O?”
“O I have killed my hawk so good,
Mother, mother;
O I have killed my hawk so good,
And I have no more but he, O.”
 
“Your hawk’s blood was never so red,
Edward, Edward;
Your hawk’s blood was never so red,
My dear son, I tell thee, O.”
“O I have killed my red-roan steed,
Mother, mother;
O I have killed my red-roan steed,
That went so fair and free, O.”

“Your steed was old, and ye have more,
Edward, Edward;
Your steed was old, and ye have more,
Some other dole ye dree, O.”
“O I have killed my father dear,
Mother, mother;
O I have killed my father dear,
Alas, and woe is me, O!”
 
“And what penance will ye dree for that,
Edward, Edward?
What penance will ye dree for that,
My dear son, now tell me, O.”
“I’ll set my foot in yonder boat,
Mother, mother,
I’ll set my foot in yonder boat,
And I’ll fare o’er the sea, O.”
 
“And what will ye do with your towers and hall,
Edward, Edward?”
And what will ye do with your towers and hall,
That were so fair to see, O?”
“I’ll let them stand till down they fall,
Mother, mother;
I’ll let them stand till down they fall,
For here never more must I be, O.”
 
“And what will ye leave to your children and wife,
Edward, Edward?
And what will ye leave to your children and wife,
When ye go o’er the sea, O?”
“The world’s room: let them beg through life,
Mother, mother;
The world’s room: let them beg through life,
For them never more will I see, O.”
 
“And what will you leave to your own mother dear,
Edward, Edward?
And what will you leave to your own mother dear,
My dear son, now tell me, O?”
“The curse of hell from me shall ye bear,
Mother, mother;
The curse of hell from me shall ye bear,
Such counsels ye gave to me, O!”

Many of the old English and Scottish ballads (narrative dramatic poems) are in the form of a dialogue. As the name suggests, they were originally meant to be sung. Here's a collection of them (some of the links are dead):

http://www.moonwise.com/ballads.html
John Francis

IcedNote
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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by IcedNote » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:44 pm

Thanks so much, JohnF! That "Edward" poem is another fantastic example of what I'm looking for. Since I can't afford Bloom, I'll browse more of these ballads. :)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

jbuck919
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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:58 pm

John F wrote:Many of the old English and Scottish ballads (narrative dramatic poems) are in the form of a dialogue.
I've got a great one that's also been set at least once: "There's a hole in my bucket." :D

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

IcedNote
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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by IcedNote » Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:20 pm

Another. Not as strong as the others, but fits right in: http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/marvell/soulbody.htm
Andrew Marvell

A DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE SOUL
AND BODY

Soul.
O, WHO shall from this dungeon raise
A soul enslaved so many ways ?
With bolts of bones, that fettered stands
In feet, and manacled in hands ;
Here blinded with an eye, and there
Deaf with the drumming of an ear ;
A soul hung up, as 'twere, in chains
Of nerves, and arteries, and veins ;
Tortured, besides each other part,
In a vain head, and double heart ?

Body.
O, who shall me deliver whole,
From bonds of this tyrannic soul ?
Which, stretched upright, impales me so
That mine own precipice I go ;
And warms and moves this needless frame,
(A fever could but do the same),
And, wanting where its spite to try,
Has made me live to let me die
A body that could never rest,
Since this ill spirit it possessed.

Soul.
What magic could me thus confine
Within another's grief to pine ?
Where, whatsoever it complain,
I feel, that cannot feel, the pain ;
And all my care itself employs,
That to preserve which me destroys ;
Constrained not only to endure
Diseases, but, what's worse, the cure ;
And, ready oft the port to gain,
Am shipwrecked into health again.

Body.
But Physic yet could never reach
The maladies thou me dost teach ;
Whom first the cramp of hope does tear,
And then the palsy shakes of fear ;
The pestilence of love does heat,
Or hatred's hidden ulcer eat ;
Joy's cheerful madness does perplex,
Or sorrow's other madness vex ;
Which knowledge forces me to know,
And memory will not forego ;
What but a soul could have the wit
To build me up for sin so fit ?
So architects do square and hew
Green trees that in the forest grew.
-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

John F
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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by John F » Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:28 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
John F wrote:Many of the old English and Scottish ballads (narrative dramatic poems) are in the form of a dialogue.
I've got a great one that's also been set at least once: "There's a hole in my bucket." :D
Flanders & Swann adapted that one as a political satire: "There's a hole in my budget."

John Francis

IcedNote
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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by IcedNote » Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:01 pm

So how about conversations/arguments/exchanges from drama? For example, I can use the opening of King Lear when Lear is questioning Cordelia about who loves him and whatnot. And then I can close the piece with one of the exchanges from the end.

Any other ideas come to mind from the example above?

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

John F
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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by John F » Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:54 pm

There are lots of dialogue scenes in plays, but the ones that come to mind don't have a conclusive resolution. The scene you mention in "King Lear" sets up struggles and tensions that aren't resolved at the end of the scene and indeed not until the end of the play. :) But if you only need a scene of a certain length between a man and a woman that has some kind of an ending, Shakespeare is full of them - Hamlet and his mother, Mr. and Mrs. Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and so on. And if you don't limit it to verse, there's no end to the possibilities!
John Francis

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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by IcedNote » Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:14 pm

John F wrote:There are lots of dialogue scenes in plays...
:P

But surely there are certain exchanges that REALLY stand out, right? And there doesn't need to be resolution. I mean, I can always include dialogue from later as a sort of coda if I feel the need to offer said resolution. :)

I'm just looking for some heated, fiery exchanges! 8)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by IcedNote » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:08 pm

Oh, I forgot to concern myself with age. :?

Yeah, taking text from such well known stories might cause people to ask why Lear is younger than Cordelia. :mrgreen:

So...both singers are ~40 with the tenor being just a few years younger. :)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

jbuck919
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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:14 pm

I have a great suggestion: Much Ado About Nothing. Oh that's right, Berlioz took that one already.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by John F » Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:42 am

Well, if you exclude texts that other composers have set, most of Shakespeare is off limits, and much else too. But the fact that Verdi composed a "Macbeth" didn't stop Ernest Bloch, and it needn't stop IcedNote either. :)

But we're talking opera here, whether you call it that or not. IcedNote, is this OK with your commission? It's some distance from where you started this thread.
John Francis

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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by IcedNote » Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:03 am

Ha, yeah, what I'm now describing is rather like an unstaged scene from an opera. Can I call that a "secular oratorio without chorus"? :D

But yes, I'm all ears! Er...all eyes! Anything to get the ideas flowing is fine with me. And I don't mind if the text has been set more times than Te Deum. ;)

(I haven't abandoned the poetry options and whatnot; just exploring all avenues.)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

PJME
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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by PJME » Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:22 pm

1/A Latin Dialogue of the Body and the Soul: Author: Robert Grosseteste [?]
http://www.ucc.ie/celt/online/L207005.html

2/Dispute poems and dialogues in the ancient and mediaeval Near East: forms and types of literary debates in Semitic and related literatures
G. J. Reinink, Herman L. J. Vanstiphout
http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/D ... DpJXhI5j8C
Peeters Publishers, 1991 - 244 pagina's
(Peeters 1991)

3/The lively verse dialogue between the Repentant Thief (Luke 23:43) and the Cherub guarding the entrance to Paradise (Genesis 3:24) is an excellent representative of the ancient literary genre of dispute literature that has remained popular in the Middle East in various languages for nearly four millennia. The aim of the present article is to make the poem available in translation to an English-speaking audience. The introduction gives an outline of the poem's wider context, and ends with some suggestions about how it might be revived for use today.
The Dispute between the Cherub and the Thief is to be found in numerous liturgical manuscripts of both the Syrian Orthodox Church and of the Church of the East, as well as in three Modern Syriac versions. The Syriac text (based on an East Syriac manuscript) was first published by E. Sachau in 1896, and this has been recently republished, along with the three Modern Syriac versions (one of which Sachau had also published), in an excellent and attractive volume entitled Il ladrone e il cherubino. Dramma liturgico cristiano orientale in siriaco e neoaramaico, by Fabrizio Pennacchietti.6 Another edition of the poem, this time based on much earlier Syrian Orthodox manuscripts, is included in my Sughyotho Mgabbyotho;7 an English translation of this was subsequently published in India,8and it is basically the same translation which is republished below. The differences between the East and West Syriac texts of the poem are not great, as will be seen from the list of more important differences given below, after the translation. Although the West Syriac manuscripts are very considerably older than the East Syriac ones, it is likely that the latter sometimes preserve the original text (thus, for example, at 33b "He put on a body", in the East Syriac manuscripts, preserves the early Syriac metaphor for the incarnation which later Syrian Orthodox tradition tended to abandon).9
http://syrcom.cua.edu/Hugoye/Vol5No2/HV5N2Brock.html
Example:
The Cherub heard him and rushed up,
he grabbed the Thief at the gate,
stopping him with the sharp blade that he held.
All astonished, he addressed him as follows:

8. CHERUB "Tell me, my man, who has sent you?
What is it you want, and how did you get here?
What is the reason that brought you here?
Reveal and explain to me who it is who has sent you".

9. THIEF "I will tell you who has sent me,
just hold back your blade and listen to my words.
I am a thief, but I supplicated for mercy,
and it was your Lord who sent me on my way here".

10. CHERUB "By what powerful means did your arrival take place?
Who brought you to this dread spot?
Who transported you across the sea of fire
so that you could enter Eden? Who is it who sent you?"
etc.

I'll go through my books, later this week.

Good luck, Peter

IcedNote
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Re: Poems/texts with "two speakers" (indirectly on topic)

Post by IcedNote » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:11 pm

PJME wrote:....Good luck, Peter
Thank you so much! "The Cherub and The Thief" is a particularly great idea! :)

-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

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