The 20-minute opera “A Game of Hearts,” with music by Douglas Pew and words by yours truly, premiered on November 19th at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater as part of the first American Opera Initiative of the WNO/KC.
“A Game of Hearts” shows both composer and librettist experimenting with perhaps the greatest technical device of opera: the use of music to elaborate simultaneously different emotions. The ladies in this card game are by turns garrulous, sniping and sentimental. Pew and Weinberg came close to successfully carrying off this most difficult fusion of material, and built to a touching set of verses that had the romantic, French-inflected power of an art song by Gabriel Faure or Cesar Franck.
More reviews and pictures:
Dara Weinberg’s libretto snips out a twenty-minute real-time moment in a nursing home on America’s Left Bank. The story line more or less focuses on the seeming tedium involved in the endgame of four elderly lives, three women and one man—plus their doctor. […]
As Jerry enters into a deep discussion with Jean on rolling with what life dishes out, both the nature of the libretto and the music change. The brittle dialogue slips into poetry, and Mr. Pew’s score—mirabile dictu—soars into a beautiful, Romantic vocal triptych, with the Doctor adding the third voice.