I just sent to Aspen the revised percussion parts for the reprise performance of my re-orchestration of John Harbison’s opera The Great Gatsby. As you might recall, Opera Parallèle premiered my version of the opera with resounding success last February at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. It’s now the turn of EP’s commissioning partner, the Aspen Music Festival, to present the work as their closing event. I will be traveling there to witness this reprise from August 16th to 18th in Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House.

Aspen Music Festival

What to expect? Since some of the cuts that OP initially made are reinstated for the Aspen production, I am very curious to hear those passages I have never heard before. I should point out that my contract was to re-orchestrate the complete, unabridged, opera, so some sections will sound totally new to me, and to Mr. Harbison, since he has never heard those passages from my version either. That’s right, John Harbison will be there too, so I am a bit nervous, but he and I have been through one round of the opera already, so it should not be too much of a problem.

The main difference is that the cast and orchestra will be comprised completely of the Aspen Music School students. It is the final project of the school’s summer music program. And I am actually very confident it will work out. Truth be told, I somewhat know what to expect since I attended a reading session that Aspen did of my reduction of Act I, Scene 3 two summers ago, and the level was exceptionally high. I also know that at least one of my Conservatory students will be in the orchestra, in the percussion section, which doubles my comfort level.

So I guess all I have to do now is go and attend. We’ll see how it goes. And I promise I’ll report back to you….

Jacques Desjardins