A cantata for mezzo-soprano, obligato bassoon, and ensemble by Doug Balliett. Written for Majel Connery (voice) and Brad Balliett (bassoon).
US premiere with Metropolis at Le poisson rouge, October 11, 2015
West Coast premiere with Opera Cabal at Starline Social Club , Oakland, CA, May 14, 2017
A Note From the Composer,
"...There's something about a cantata that really appeals to me; the drama, the length. Cantatas are like bite-sized operas, condensing the humor and pathos in a story into a work the length of one side of a pop LP. I wrote these texts more from a dramatic than a historic vantage, though I did review the Twelve Caesars of Suetonius, an excellent source on Cleopatra, as well as Goldsworthy’s new biography and Mike Duncan’s fantastic podcast The History of Rome. Cleopatra was not the way we imagine her today, except maybe that she usually got what she wanted. In particular I was surprised to discover she was not always a sex symbol, and there’s no evidence that Cleopatra took more than two lovers in her entire life (though each of them was, at the time, the most important man in Rome). This cantata is not intended to be a history lesson, but rather a meditation on her much romanticized last few hours of life. My cantata opens with a recitative in which Cleopatra considers raising an army to fight Octavian. Rejecting this idea, she thinks back on the death of Julius Caesar in a short arioso, before lamenting her situation in a longer aria with solo bassoon and a continuo group made up of harp and electric bass. She makes up her mind to take her own life in a Hollywood-ish number that sets the ensemble loose. In the last aria, as she’s dying, we see her in a hallucinatory state, looking at herself (“remorse after death”)..."