Petr Kotik
Master-Pieces

The composition of the chamber opera Master-Pieces was initiated by the following events. A suggestion by soprano Sylvia Robert that I compose a piece for soprano, which resulted in an idea/vision of a piece for soprano and violin. Reading, analyzing, rewriting and an attempt to understand the 1936 lecture text by Gertrude Stein titled What Are Master-Pieces And Why Are There So Few of Them (initially, this had no relation to the idea of a piece for soprano and violin). A commission by Jirí Nekvasil, director of the National Moravian-Silesian Theater opera house, to create an opera for the 2014 NODO festival. And my long standing desire to create a piece of music theater.

The congruence of these events led me to decide on composing the chamber opera Master-Pieces. In the course of an involvement with a composition, spontaneous ideas often emerge, very often as a result of a critical look at work that is currently under way.

Back in the 70s, I used to compose directly, without any further changes and edits, writing out my scores with a fountain pen. Lately, all my pieces are close to works-in-progress, i.e. making changes and edits, often years into the existence and performances of the work. I have made changes in Master-Pieces that occurred since its premiere last June. A new text source was added – a few short excerpts from Gertrude Stein’s diary The Wars I Have Seen, written in 1943-44.

culoz700Culoz, Rhône-Alpes, France

These additions to the libretto are being narrated and place the opera in the context of a time-environment of 1943-44, when Stein and Alice Toklas spent the last part of WWII in the village of Culoz in the French Alps. A few of ensemble singing sections were extended and the trumpet was added to the group of instruments.

More about the performance ...