a Brazilian Opera
Tropical Brainstorm – A Pagan Ceremony
Videos from previous performances:
Audio for streaming and purchase:
This is a compilation from different performances, mostly premieres. Many singers have helped workshop this music. I am very lucky, thank you so much! Full credits and photos are on the scene by scene pages, and scrolling down to Performance History.
- Tamandua the Opera – Full Score (sample)
- Tamandua – Vocal Score (sample)
- Tamandua the Opera – Chamber Ensemble
- Tamandua Libretto
- Tamanduá – A Brazilian Opera -Dossier
Scene by Scene:
These 18 scenes in the audio performances represent the bulk of Tamanduá. You don’t get the instrumental dances, the recitatives, some transitions and a chunk of dramatic action: the street market, the duel, chase, death. You will need to skip pages if you follow the Pdf.
All these recordings feature the chamber ensemble arrangements, but they should match the full orchestral score, for the most part. Or you could navigate the scene by scene pages, for a clear image of what this opera is about.
I recommend a closer look at the characters and the story, before you listen to the music.
| Main Characters: |
- Carol: bird, soprano – American woman, journalist.
- Aruanan: anteater, baritone – Street poet.
- Pedro: jaguar. tenor – Brazilian man who’s lived in the US, drug dealer.
- Julia: she-wolf, mezzo – Brazilian woman, mother of Sofia (daughter of Aruanan).
Solo Dancers: 4 Animal Spirits
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Check: Scene by Scene
Program Notes by Prof. Jeffrey Gall:
(for the Performance by the Montclair State University Opera Workshop, Alexander Kasser Theater, Peak Performances – December 2009)
Tamanduá is conceived as a meeting place, whose physical symbol is water: the frontier between land and sea, the boundary separating New York from Rio, the mysterious source of life and (as blood) death. The opera’s protagonists bring their hopes and desires, fears and prejudices to a series of encounters, as their fates cross at the water’s edge. A larger spiritual context surrounds their experience, relating the plot to the African Brazilian religion of Candomblé and the native shamanic rituals of Pajelança. The role of the chorus oscillates between the realistic (dance-hall crowd) and the hieratic (the witches).
Deriving archetypes from the indigenous animism, the opera assigns an animal soul to each of the characters. These spirits are not merely symbols, like the Orishas, or patron deities of Candomblé, they lend the protagonists special characteristics and guide their fates. Carol is perpetually in flight. Julia is a mother as well as a lover. Pedro is a quicksilver and predatory figure; Aruanan, earthly and direct.
Aesthetically speaking, Tamanduá is a trans-cultural hybrid. It is sung in English, Brazilian Portuguese and various indigenous tongues. The libretto employs a wide range of tone from slang to soaring lyricism. The music embraces elements of classical modernist compositional techniques, Western pop, Brazilian popular styles (samba, bossa nova, baiao) and indigenous chant.
| Introduction: |
Tamanduá é bandeira, símbolo da nossa terra.
Brazilians tend to think of tamanduá (the anteater) as the animal that hugs. Hugging is an important aspect of Brazilian culture. We hug. The idea of embracing is a defining aspect in much Brazilian art.
However, the hug from the anteater is powerful and lethal. When the anteater and the jaguar meet they tend to avoid conflict, because they know that in these cases both usually end up dead.
| Plot |
Tamanduá is the story of a love triangle between Carol, an American journalist heading to Brazil, Aruanan, a street poet, and his friend Pedro, a drug dealer who had lived in New York. Julia, the mother of Aruanan’s first child also enters the picture as one who comments the development of the story and foresees the tragedy.
Once Carol gets to Rio, she immerses herself in the local nightlife. She meets Pedro, and Aruanan, with whom she becomes romantically involved. Julia is jealous of Carol. Carol and Aruanan start a relationship with the inevitable conflicts of a couple from different backgrounds. Both idealize and misunderstand each other.
Aruanan gets possessive, Carol resents that he can’t even pay for his own pizza. Pedro takes Carol out one evening. The evening intensifies and they have sex. It is not long before Aruanan hears the news and falls in a state of anger and confusion. At the street market, he confronts Pedro, ultimately killing him, but not without getting wounded himself. The police chase Aruanan, assuming that the death is drug-related. He dies after interrogation.
The spirit of the dead crosses to the third bank of the river. The city cannot stop to mourn. Carol discovers that she is pregnant, she doesn’t know which man is the father and they are both dead. Carol forms an unlikely bond with Julia. In the outside world there is no time to cry over losses in the battle. The laundry women sing their song to the waters that wash away the blood from the streets; wash away the dirt from the past.
| Staging and Context |
The idea is to have a soup cooked on stage, and then served to the audience at the end of the second act.
In Italian opera the drama ends with the tragic death. In this Brazilian opera, the story continues beyond that. I am concerned with the consequences of death. So, we follow the spirit of Aruanan, through a séance, as he crosses to the third bank of the river (Ueremen). We watch the grief of Julia, after the men die, we see how the other women comfort her and a pregnant Carol, before we get to the circular finale (Ela Deseja, Lavadeiras).
| Place |
The contrasting landscapes of a busy New York Winter and an explosive Rio de Janeiro Summer shape the scenario against which the cultural and psychological conflicts among the characters take place. Interaction between natives and foreigners in Rio, as well as the dealing of art and drugs, set up a panel of references to urban violence in the modern world. Parallel to the story line are underlying tribal and mystical themes, dealing with aspects of colonization, globalization, the collective unconscious mind, urban archetypes, and the fusion of cultures in the New World. Shamanic animal souls define the trajectory and the personality of the main characters.
| Other Characters: |
Chorus, Dancers and Comprimarios.
- The Witches – As Bruxas – The Hecate. fem chorus.
- The Editors – male chorus.
- Sofia: Aruanan’s child daughter. Soprano.
- José: Pedro and Aruanan’s best friend. Tenor.
- Drug dealers – male chorus.
- Street sellers – full chorus
- The Police – male chorus
- As Lavadeiras – The Laundry Women – Fem chorus.
- Yemanjá – Orisha of the Seas. Soprano.
- Inhansã – Orisha of the winds, thunders and storms. Mezzo.
The chorus is featured prominently throughout. There are many crowd scenes. It should be staged as if we are watching these multiple lives unfold and then somehow we find ourselves focused on this or that person. Then they melt again into the anonymous background.
| Performance history: |
2005 – Regina Opera, Brooklyn NY – Aruanan’s aria: Ueremen.
- Baritone: Claudio Mascarenhas
- Piano: Joao MacDowell.
2008 – Ten Selections from Tamanduá. New York City – Concert Series.
– Casa do Brasil concert hall.
– Amazonia Exhibit, South Street Seaport.
- Amy Buckley as Carol
- Abby Powell as Julia
- Guto Bittencourt as Pedro
- Claudio Mascarenhas as Aruanan
- Chorus: Laudicéia Calixto, Suzi Thompson, Sabine Pelarin, Debora Ballardini
- Piano: Georgianna Pappas
- Violoncello: Jeremy Lamb
- Percussion: Jorge Amorim.
- Conducted by: Joao MacDowell
2009 – Opera Workshop – 16 Staged Scenes
Peak Performances, Alexander Kasser Theater.
Montclair State University.
Directed by Prof. Jeffrey Gall.
Each main role was split among 3 or 4 singers.
- Vocal Ensemble: Allie Constantine, Andrea Covais, Max DeFrancesco, Lorene Henderson, Alex Houser, Frank Hughes, Cassandra Krajcik, Taylor Kurilew, Sasha Leon, Jeremy Brauner, Jonathan Lindeblad, Robert Liptak, Mia Pafumi, Jennifer Paragano, Kimberly Prins-Moeller, Michael Sandor, Paige Sandusky, Catherine Shelley, Brittany Silver, Michelle Sontag, Joseph Wilson, Johanna Zuleta.
- Piano: Dmitri Korneev
- Violoncello: Daniel Mumm
- Percussion: Peter Abazia, John Carega, Raymond Carega
Montclair State University, John J. Cali School of Music.
Alexander Kasser Theater, Peak Performances.
- Videoscenography on performances by Cila MacDowell.
- Tamanduá Logo and Ants by Cila MacDowell and Lavinia Goes.
- Photographs: Fernando Natalice, Gustavo Lino, Ricardo Barbosa, Fernanda Bravo, Bruna Brasil, Rodney Leinberger, Maurice Dubem.
Check the Scene by Scene, starting on Act I :
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