The idea for this project began with Debussy’s Cinq poèmes de Baudelaire, which I coached with Rudolf Jansen in 2009 at The Mountainview International Song Festival. These songs are some of the earliest of Debussy’s compositions and provide a challenge to both the performer and the audience in their presentation, so I took it as a challenge to make them more accessible and decided to weave them into a show that would add the theatrical elements of dramatic staging and story. In order to do this, I asked theatre director Roberta Barker, to help guide me in this project.
But first in order to create a full story, I felt I needed more content, so I searched for texts of Baudelaire, which were set to music, or music inspired by those texts, and I added works by Jonathan Harvey and Elliot Carter to the program. My collaboration partner for the first incantation of this project, pianist Krista Vincent, also found an incredible work La descent vers l’enfer (Descent into Hell) from Sheila Silver’s Six preludes pour piano, d’après poèmes de Baudelaire. The final element to glue this project together was to commission new works from Canadian composers to round the program out. There were three additional songs composed by Tawnie Olson and Clark Ross, along with a piano solo by Scott Godin.
From this point I also chose to use visuals to enhance the audiences experience by weaving art from the era of Baudelaire in combination with translations for the songs. This project was presented in September 2011 at The Music Room in Halifax, at Newfound Music Festival at memorial School of Music in St. John’s and at Gallery 345 in January 2012. I am planning to resurrect this show in the near future…stay tuned…