Roulette TV sits down with composer Robert Ashley to discuss his work and latest opera: "The Old Man Lives in Concrete".
Iconoclast composer Robert Ashley revisits his opera, Concrete, with eight new songs. Each evening’s performance features four solo songs (Portraits) about ordinary people who did extraordinary things for which they’ll never be recognized, alternating with ensemble sections (Meditations) with short solos sung by Ashley (as The Observer).
Robert Ashley , a distinguished figure in American contemporary music, holds an international reputation for his work in new forms of opera and multi-disciplinary projects. His recorded works are acknowledged classics of language in a musical setting. He pioneered opera-for-television with such revolutionary pieces as Music with Roots in the Aether , a 14-hour opera/documentary about the work and ideas of seven American composers and Perfect Lives , an opera in seven half-hour episodes commissioned by the Kitchen and broadcast in Britain, Germany, Austria, Spain, and the US. Distinctly original in style, and distinctly American in their subject matter and use of the American language, Ashley's work is "so vast in their vision that they are comparable only to Wagner's Ring cycle or Stockhausen's seven-evening Licht cycle. In form and content, in musical, vocal, literary and media technique, they are, however, comparable to nothing else." (The Los Angeles Times).
“Ashley celebrates language and questions its basic hold on truth or rational thought. His ultimate message may be that the language of music strikes deepest.”— The Los Angeles Times
“When the 21st century glances back to see where the future of opera came from, Ashley, like Monteverdi before him, is going to look like a radical new beginning.” — Kyle Gann, The Village Voice
“If James Joyce were alive today, he would probably be trying to write operas like Robert Ashley.” —The Wire
Libretto, Music and Direction: Robert Ashley
Singers: Sam Ashley, Thomas Buckner, Jacqueline Humbert, Joan La Barbara and Robert Ashley
Electronic orchestra: Robert Ashley
Mixing and live electronics: Tom Hamilton
Aired on rTV: 2013
Performance: April 25-28, 2012
Produced by Jim Staley
Directed by Matt Mehlan
Edited by Wolf Daniel