Notes and Editorial Reviews
World Premiere Recording
Daron Hagen's new opera Bandanna is a powerful and gloriously tuneful work, a Texas border-town setting of Othello, thrillingly orchestrated for symphonic Wind Ensemble, Mariachi band and double choir.
Bandanna deals with Mexican refugees, the illegal immigrants who swim across the border 'with their lives between their teeth.' They are met by a policeman who, it is revealed, is there to help them. Soon, the Chief of Police must come between his lieutenants. So begins the drama. Will the policeman betray the refugees or not? The action is complicated by the fact that all three policemen served together
in Vietnam and have brought home the trauma of the war. Their public duties and private beliefs conflict. What begins as social criticism unfolding in the manner of Italian
verismo and the Brecht-Weill operas from between the wars expands in the second act into a love story. There is a scene about sexual seduction. Groundless jealousy provokes the police chief to strangle his wife, shoot his colleague, and ultimately, himself. The curtain falls on this desolate scene. 'Dona nobis requiem...('To live is to sleep, to die to awaken.') The opera begins with these words and with these words it ends.
- Wolfgang Suppan, Clarino Magazine
Bandanna is a poignant, dramatic, and moving new opera, one that belongs in the repertoire not because it deals with the politically hot topic of illegal immigration, but because it is powerful music theater. - Henry Fogel, Fanfare
As Wallace Stevens might have put it, opera is changing and it is going to change. Philip Glass writes his stage masterpiece, a luminous mystery play entitled
Satyagraha, in Sanskrit. Stephen Sondheim's works open on Broadway and migrate inevitably to the opera houses. John Adams creates music theater based on the not-quite-latest-latest-but-still-significant news - Nixon's visit to China... And now Daron Hagen's
Bandanna which is deliciously neither fish nor fowl - as fierce as verismo but wrought with infinite care; a melding of church and cantina and Oxonian declamation (the words are by the poet Paul Muldoon); a work that would have been recognized as such by creators as diverse as Virgil Thomson, Silvestre Revueltas and Irving Berlin.
Not that Hagen sounds like any of them, or course. But he has listened, with profit, to the music around him - in the concert hall, on the radio, on the street, in what used to be called the zeitgeist - and then put his enormous gifts and superb training (with Ned Rorem and Leonard Bernstein, among others) into the creation of work that is both distinguished and original. He combines intellectual rigor and dramatic intelligence with melodies that can actually be sung and remembered and - even with the unusual ensemble for which
Bandanna was written (strings are heard only as part of a mariachi band) - his orchestration might serve as a textbook lesson in economy and clarity."
- Tim Page
S Y N O P S I S:
Bandanna is the story of a chief of police, Miguel Morales, and two officers who once served with him in Vietnam and who now serve with him in a small town on the Texas Mexican border. Jake, who is resentful of Cassidy's advancement over him, is playing a dangerous double-role as policeman and guide to successive groups of illegal immigrant workers. With the encouragement of a morally bankrupt union organizer, Kane, Jake determines to convince Morales that his wife, Mona, is having an affair with Cassidy. In the end, groundless jealousy provokes Miguel to strangle his wife with her own bandanna, shoot his colleague, and ultimately, himself.
Works on This Recording
Bandanna by Daron Hagen
James Demler (Baritone),
Darynn Zimmer (Soprano),
Travis Lewis (Bass Baritone),
Mark Thomsen (Tenor),
Lesley DeGroot (Mezzo Soprano),
Alfonse Anderson (Tenor),
Ed Corpus (),
Brad Repp (Violin),
Scott Noonan (),
Lauren Jackson (Violin),
Margarit Powell (Violin),
David Blink (Trumpet),
Chuck Garcia (Trumpet),
Tyler S. Williams (Double Bass),
Art Gomez (Guitar),
Paul Kreider (Baritone),
Jennifer Barton ()
University of Nevada Las Vegas Wind Orchestra,
UNLV Opera Theater Chorus,
Period: 20th century
Written: 1998; USA
Date of Recording: 2/2000
Venue: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Length: 115 Minutes 02 Secs.
Notes: Ham Concert Hall, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (02/28/2000 - 02/29/2000)
Composition written: USA (1997 - 1999).
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