Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Circles on Quiet Water

For those in the Boulder/Denver area tonight, come out and see the performance of my viola and electronics composition, Circles on Quiet Water!  It's being played by the excellent Cassandra Mueller, and there are many other excellent new works on the show as well.

Why Write Casanova

At first glance, Giacomo Casanova represents a technically demanding and intellectually daunting character to bring to life on the stage. Casanova’s public stereotype far outshines the significance of his exploits. His adventures took place in an era far removed from our own. And on the subject of himself, Casanova has already written 1.3 million words about his conquests. Known as the most prominent paramour of his time, the greatness of Casanova’s love is not measured in breadth. It is measured in depth. Instead of aspiring to love as many as he, maybe we can learn to love as much. This simple statement gave me my first insight into the character and proved to be a “eureka moment” for my musical journey.

Every story has to begin at the beginning; mine started in a meeting with the charming and effervescent Bill Mooney. Through his assiduous passion and rapier wit, he helped me appreciate the creative possibilities in retelling Casanova’s story. Casanova at Twilight provided a great opportunity to reimagine a familiar archetype. With the help of his delightful wife, Valorie Goodall, we set off on a grand adventure of sex and deceit in 18th century Italy.

After adventuring for some time, I began to realize that Casanova and I were connected in ways I never anticipated. As a composer and lyricist, I found inspiration in Casanova’s witty, scandalous tales of debauchery. They fascinate and titillate. However, Casanova’s true brilliance resides in his autobiography, Histoire de ma Vie. He articulates the intimate details of his life with critical objectivity and a frankness that many others are unwilling or unable to achieve. As his story progresses, Casanova reveals the true depth of his character, his naked soul emerging from page after page of brutal, unapologetic honesty. I try to capture the same feeling of integrity in the music for Casanova at Twilight.

The music is ribald at times, and soothing at others. It bounces capriciously from one idea to the next as Casanova’s mind wonders. Themes from Casanova’s past are often misremembered or misinterpreted, especially when in pursuit of a lovely lady. He never developed a strong understanding of musical technique, so phrases and motifs often fluctuate in style and historical context. It is at once loud and brash, soft and sweet, angry, funny, ugly, and sexy. As with literature, true musical expression can only be achieved through self-reflection and a fearless exploration of the human condition. In this way, Casanova and I are brothers.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Story of Casanova

From the Daily Camera:

Be careful what you choose for casual reading. It may lead to a musical. That's what happened when Bill Mooney decided to tackle Giacomo Casanova's 12-volume, 3,700-page autobiography a couple of years ago. The deeper he made his way into the prolific, famous -- or infamous, depending on your point of view -- 18th-century paramour's pages, the wilder the tales became. And the more Mooney discovered Casanova's life was filled with much more than wooing women. "Everybody knows Casanova's name," Mooney said. "We use it all the time, either flatteringly or pejoratively, to describe some men. 'He's a real Casanova.' But nobody really knows anything about his life." What Mooney discovered, he said, is that Casanova was an intellectual and a writer. He wrote 43 volumes in all, including a translation of "The Iliad" into Italian. He was at home in 18th-century power circles, socializing with much of Europe's political and religious elite. He became rich by starting a lottery for King Louis XV, and he was a spy. "And in his spare time," Mooney quipped, "he loved women." Mooney was so inspired by the man behind the legend that he approached people in CU's School of Music about producing a musical comedy about Casanova. "Casanova at Twilight" plays at the ATLAS Black Box Theatre on CU's campus Sept. 23 through Oct. 2. Mooney wrote the book for "Casanova," and CU doctoral student Hunter Ewen composed its eclectic score, brought to life by a live orchestra that features piano, strings and percussion. "Casanova" director Valorie Goodall has assembled a talented cast. Along with Mooney, who plays the show's narrator, Old Casanova, CU Opera Program Director Leigh Holman will perform, as will Raouf Zaidan. Zaidan's performance is a homecoming, of sorts, as he starred regularly in CU Opera in the Summer's early days when the summertime program featured Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. Also, local gender illusionist Jeffrey Kash will play two female roles in "Casanova." Mooney has a history with the university. He went to school in Boulder in the late-1950s -- he acted in the first season of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in 1958 -- before moving to New York City and cultivating a 35-year career on stage, television and in film. In the 1990s, he returned to Boulder to direct CU Opera in the Summer shows, and transitioned into a second career as a professional storyteller. When he first picked up Casanova's autobiography, he wondered if it might spark an idea for a one-man show. Soon, though, Mooney decided Casanova's life was too rich, and it needed to be told in musical form. Casanova was born in Venice in 1725. He began writing his autobiography, "Histoire de ma vie," in the 1780s, about a decade before he died in 1798. The work is regarded by scholars as an authoritative look at European life in the 1700s. For Mooney, the details Casanova described were a revelation. "Several people have written that the 18th century in Europe was very different (from today)," Mooney said. "Sex back in Italy during that day was about as common as blowing your nose. It's a good insight into why Casanova got his name."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Casanova is Coming

Lock up your daughters! Casanova at Twilight is a scandalous new musical comedy written by Bill Mooney, with original music by Hunter Ewen, based on Casanova’s autobiography. This musical romp through Casanova’s scandalous life is directed by Valorie Goodall, choreographed by Marilyn Cohen, and features Bill Mooney as Old Casanova, Garrett Smith as Young Casanova, with Leigh Holman, Jeffrey Kash, Raouf Zaidan, Emily Murdock, Lukas Graf, Kari Kraakevik, David L’Hommedieu, and Bruce and Jere Mock.

Author Bill Mooney has written a number of plays and one-man shows; he has performed on and off-Broadway; and played the role of Paul Martin in ABC's All My Children for fourteen years. 

Composer Hunter Ewen is completing a Doctoral of Music Arts in composition at CU Boulder. 

Proceeds from the production will benefit the College of Music, ATLAS, and other CU Performing Arts participants.

Parental guidance is advised.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

World Record Ballon Blower-upper

Hello all.  Many have seen this on Facebook, but here is the video of me breaking the Guinness Record for most balloons inflated in 1 hour by 1 person.  The new record is 582, as you can see below.

Ohia and Lehua Friday Night

Hello Lexingtonians! I will be performing my solo sax and electronics piece Ohia and Lehua Friday night as part of the Studio 300 festival at Transylvania University.  The concert starts at 7:30pm, in Haggin Auditorium at the Mitchell Fine Arts Center.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Kickstarter is online

Hello bloggers!  The official Kickstarter page to fund my multimedia extravaganza "I Am Watch Television Zombie" is online!  Check it out here:

We need your help to make the project a huge success - both in terms of donations and in terms of helping us come up with names, images, and videos to project during the show!  Brraaaaaaaains!!!