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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What about The Steiny Road to Operadom?

Anyone who knows poetry knows that poets are trouble. They either want to be left alone to write or they want a stage for their work. The Steiny Road to Operadom: The Making of American Operas is a unique stage where the Poet, that’s me Karren Alenier, takes the reader on a wild ride through the world of opera.


Here’s the jacket blurb:
“Travel The Steiny Road to Operadom with the brave, naive Steiny Road Poet, who like Voltaire’s Candide or Carroll’s Alice, dauntlessly ventures into the best of all possible worlds or down dark rabbit holes in a journey of discovery. What this cubist education tracks is a parallel of the collaboration between opera modernists Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson with current day collaborators, poet Karren LaLonde Alenier and composer William Banfield of Gertrude Stein Invents a Jump Early On, a classical and jazz opera that premiered in 2005 in collaboration with director-dramaturg Nancy Rhodes and Encompass New Opera Theatre. Interwoven interviews with such artists as director Plácido Domingo, composer Ned Rorem, and poet J. D. McClatchy complete the story of how modern day operas are created. Stay alert. The roses encountered along the Steiny Road bear thorns, sharp thorns.”

What the Poet did was she wrote the words to an opera, enlisted a composer and theater director to develop the work with her, and simultaneously she began writing essays and interviewing artists in the field of opera to learn about it. She was lucky enough to get her essays and articles published on the Internet in Scene4 Magazine.

In this blog, the Poet will track the progress of this book, which will start circulating to reviewers in March 2007. Everything about book publishing is hard these days. It might be a close second to getting an opera stage. This reminds me that book publishing is a collaborative activity. Without help from generous friends and colleagues who read and re-read my words and then gave me feedback and corrections, the book probably would not have happened.

Here is what academics in the field of opera have said about The Steiny Road book:

“Karren Alenier’s peripatetic The Steiny Road To Operadom is a must read for any librettist, composer, or opera aficionado in search of an inside look at the creation and performance of a contemporary opera.”

Gordon Ostrowski
Director of Opera Studies
Manhattan School of Music


The Steiny Road to Operadom is a fascinating look into the mind of American poet and librettist Karren Alenier. A must-read for anyone aspiring to write for contemporary American opera. A truly Stein’ian landscape of reflections, advice, interviews and objets trouvés from her creative journey starting in Tangier with Paul Bowles in 1982 until the complete production of Gertrude Stein Invents a Jump Early On in New York in 2005. Full of surprises and fun to read.”

Dr. Frank Hentschker
Director of Programs,
The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center,
The Graduate Center, CUNY


“Karren Alenier gives us a fresh view into the world of perhaps the most important writer of our time. She shows the rocky and fruitful collaboration of Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson through a wide range of scholarly sources and through her own process with composer William Banfield. The romantic myth of the artist alone crumbles in the glow of a community of artists, as does the myth of the blissful communion of collaborators, whether in 1930’s Paris or New York in the twenty-first century. We see the awkward beauty of two operas conceived, born, and bred, and through the eyes and ears of the Steiny Poet, we can hear the music of language, and the language of music, all the more clearly.”

Juanita Rockwell
librettist for James Sellars’ opera, The World is Round

The Poet would like to share what she has learned and so in other blog entries to come, she will talk about how to find a publisher, getting permissions, the importance of identifying flesh-and-blood critics and more.

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1 comment:

grace cavalieri said...

I cannot imagine any journey more exciting than to be on the road with this poet who searches the highland for operadom. Take us with you, Karren, and we will peruse your blog endlessly! GRACE CAVALIERI