Instrumentation: Piano/Mezzo or soprano
Commission: Claudia Stevens through Painted Bride
Mezzo/pianist Claudia Stevens
Colorado College, Boulder, CO
Carreño (1987), scored for a virtuoso pianist who is also a singer (soprano or mezzo) and an actress, is a musical theatre piece based on the life of the great Venezuelan pianist Teresa Carreño (1863-1917). The text was written by the composer, based on a wide variety of source materials, including Milinowski’s By the Grace of God. The piece explores the role of music in Carreño’s life and its importance as a fixed axis around which her complicated and flamboyant personal life revolved. Certain of Carreño’s favorite pieces, as well as music composed by her (the Teresita Waltz), and music dedicated to her (MacDowell’s Second Piano Concerto), are referred to in the score. This twenty-minute composition also examines Carreño’s personal life, including the disappointments and traumas of the death of two of her children at birth or in young childhood, and the difficulties of motherhood, given the demands of her career and her crushing touring schedule. The piece begins with Carreño embarking on her nightly game of solitaire, before her piano practice brings her to reflect on the path of her life and her music.