Instrumentation TTBarB choir and piano
Poem by William Shakespeare (from Romeo and Juliet)
Commissioned by Cleveland Concert Opera
World Premiere May 22, 1998, Waetjen Auditorium, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland Concert Opera/Singers’ Club of Cleveland; Michael Borowitz, piano; Thomas Shellhammer, conductor
Prologue: Two Households is a setting of the opening sonnet from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and was commissioned by Michael Borowitz, artistic director of Cleveland Concert Opera, to open CCO’s production of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi, in collaboration with the Singers’ Club of Cleveland.
In the classic story, the two feuding families cannot see eye-to-eye though their views are not entirely dissimilar. This setting musically reflects this opposition on many levels: the pervasive use of the interval of a second (almost a unison, but not quite); the use of two contrasting primary tempi; the division of the full choir into two smaller choirs; the use of canonic and echo effects, where the parts follow each other but rarely come together; and through music of two dramatically opposing characters, one angry and defiant, the other gentle and introspective. Two households, both alike in dignity,
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