Friday, November 03, 2006

Elodie Lauten's Orfreo

Although I can’t sing a note I’ve been involved with opera for 25 years. I edited and published a libretto of Carlo Goldoni translated by W.H. Auden. The composer Elodie Lauten had set some of my poetry to music. Finally she asked me to write a libretto about a female Orpheus. I tried.

Unfortunately the opera director Jason Buzas told me there had been over 200 operas written about Orpheus. Was Eurydice to be a man? A Lesbian? I tussled and tussled until I finally thought of Ray Johnson. Orpheus had invented music; Ray had invented “correspondance (sic) art.” Ray was gay and had committed suicide in the Age of AIDS. I was working with Gregory Corso’s Italianate spelling of Orpheus, Orfeo. One day I heard a new word : OrphRAYo. Orfeo plus Ray equals Orfreo.

And so I wrote the libretto, with Elodie as dramaturge. It was produced by Elaine Comparone at Merkin Hall. And they made a film. And now the film’s sound has been newly enhanced, and the film will be screened tomorrow Saturday 4 November 5:30-6:00pm at New York Studio Gallery 511 W. 25th Street, #607.

If you’re free, come by.