Robert Ashley

Ashley: Now Eleanor's Idea

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Robert Ashley composed a group of four operas (known collectively as Now Eleanor's Idea), Improvement, Foreign Experiences, El Aficionado, and Now Eleanor's Idea for the 1994 Festival d'Avignon. The first three operas have been recorded by Lovely Music, which has now completed the series with the fourth, Now Eleanor's Idea. Many of his operas were conceived for video, and a television production of Now Eleanor's Idea was commissioned, but never completed. Ashley's operas stretch the definition of the form. Most are relatively static visually, and consist of a continuous narrative that is expressed (often simultaneously) by vocal soloists, usually in a chant-like monotone, by a chorus, by a speaking chorus, and by speaking soloists. The overlapping layers create the main musical interest through the subtly shifting textures. The narrative itself, a surreal story that suits the hallucinatory character of the music, is intriguing, too, and is easy to follow because it is either clearly declaimed or sung with simplicity and directness. The cast, headed by the extraordinary Joan la Barbara, captures the strangeness and distinctiveness of the opera's atmosphere. The recording makes it possible to hear the various overlapping musical elements with great clarity. Now Eleanor's Idea should be of interest to fans of experimental opera and music theater, and the tradition of American experimentalism.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Now Eleanor's Idea, opera
1 22:03
2 22:02

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Now Eleanor's Idea, opera
1 21:57
2 22:26
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