to scratch an angel originated as a 50-minute song cycle for soprano, counter-tenor, baritone, choir and orchestra (both symphony and chamber versions). Most recently, a 15-minute orchestral suite version has been created. This powerful work is now being expanded into a full-length opera.
performed excerpts from to scratch an angel as part of their Showcasing American Composers series, May 15th. The full orchestra and soloists presentation was in Westpark Church, in New York City. Attendance was the highest of the series and all were moved by the powerful work-in-progress.
In 3 acts and 18 scenes - sung mostly in English, with brief German, Italian and Hebrew - it is loosely inspired by the life, writings and death of Primo Levi. Born in Turin, Italy, in 1919, and trained as a chemist, Levi was arrested during the Second World War as a member of the anti-Fascist resistance and deported to Auschwitz in 1944. His experience in the death camp and his subsequent travels through Eastern Europe were the subject of powerful memoirs, fiction and poetry. Dr. Levi ended his life in Turin in April 1987.
Composer & librettist Ari Frankel does not use Levi's words nor does he focus on World War II or specifically European concerns. The original texts of this seductive, tonal/modal work will observe global human concerns, exploring what Frankel calls "The Art Of Violence" . Current instrumental and aria drafts feature three of the four main characters: Music [dramatic soprano], Messenger [counter tenor], and Melencolia [baritone]. They will be joined by Primo [tenor] and four secondary characters (Despair [dramatic mezzo-soprano], Love [dancer; non-singing], Luck [lyric soprano] and Hope [bass]), a full orchestra, chorus and dancers. A synopsis and outline are available.
to scratch an angel follows a mythic path of a soul's search for kindness and beauty. 14 arias and 2 instrumental movements have already been completed, along with several demonstration recordings, featuring wonderful singers such as James Bowman, Dora Ohrenstein, John Kelly and Janice Pendarvis.
Following a visit to Levi's home and grave in Torino, Frankel had also constructed a Primo Levi internet site, devoted to a rare film interview transcription as well as many book covers, publicity shots and original photos. Info on another new Frankel work, wiping ceramic tiles for countertenor and piano, can be found here.