Works Based on the Inferno of Dante
Mr. Soluri has written several compositions over several years based on the Inferno of Dante. After becoming interested in the idea of an idea of an opera based on Inferno, Mr. Soluri wrote The Inferno: A Study as a way to exam if the text could work in a vocal/operatic setting. Many of the concepts used later in the operas originated in this work as well as Virgil's Aria. It was scored for seven solo voices and seven strings and performed April 2, 1998 - conducted by Patrick Soluri. The work was then expanded into a one hour long opera in three acts Inferno, with an English verse translation/libretto by Allison Ryan and performed March 19 and 21, 1999 with a staged performance with full orchestra. For his Bachelor's thesis at Manhattan School of Music Mr. Soluri composed an orchestral suite based on the opera called Inferno: Symphonic Poem. During his tenure as composer-in-residence from 1998 - 2000 with Manhattan Virtuosi Mr. Soluri compiled parts of the opera and some new sections into The Inferno: Scene Excerpts from the Opera which was performed in the Spring of 2000. Another piece The Inferno: Excerpts from the Opera for Chorus and Orchestra was compiled and performed for a concert of the University of Louisville Opera Workshop in October of 2001. In January 2002 Virgil's Aria was performed as an individual piece in a recital during January 2002 (along with Figaro's Last Hangover and other works). For Mr. Soluri's Graduate thesis at the University of Louisville and as recipient of the Moritz von Bomhard Fellowship in Opera composition, he wrote the Inferno of Dante: Canto V. This work for full orchestra and cast of two lead male roles, speaker and seven soloists used the complete translation from Canto V by John Ciardi (with permission). "Canto V" was letter selected and showcased by New York City Opera in May 2003 with full orchestra and cast.
Setting the Inferno as a dramatic opera created many unique challenges. Written at the beginning of the 14th century in an old Italian dialect, the work contains numerous descriptions of the people and places within the Inferno, but very little dialogue. It is these descriptions that form the heart of this text. In my analysis, I discovered that Dante wrote the Inferno with two voices; one for dialogue and another for narrative. The narrative is told from the perspective of Dante the Poet writing the story of an event that took place in the past. The dialogue is written in the present tense for the person actually making the physical journey, Dante the Pilgrim. My solution was to divide the character of Dante into two roles: Dante the Pilgrim and Dante the Poet. All dialogue is sung, and all narrative is spoken. Thus, Dante the Pilgrim is purely a singing role, and his material comes from the dialogue within the Inferno. Dante the Poet is a narrator, and his spoken material comes from the descriptive text of the Inferno.
Although the Divine Comedy is a complex story that encompasses mythology, politics and symbolism, more importantly it heralds the birth of modern humanism. Dante leads us into the very bowels of God’s Divine retribution, but even within the bowels we suffer with Dido, we tremble for Helen and we weep with Francesca and Paolo. We have forgotten God’s judgment in the face of our own humanity. Dante has moved away from the medieval mind set and towards the enlightenment, the autonomous individual.
With my two ballets, Ngoni and Madame X, I discovered a love of composing dramatic music for mythology and symbolic stories. Upon discovering the Inferno I was intrigued that it contained not only these elements, but also was a beautiful representation of the long forward-march of humanity. As a composer this was a great challenge and it is my hope that the story and its relevance has come alive within the music and upon the stage.
LIST OF WORKS BY PATRICK SOLURI BASED ON THE INFERNO OF DANTE
The Inferno of Dante: Canto V (2002) 18 minutes
Performed by New York City Opera
VOX 2003: Showcasing American Composers
Orchestra of New York City Opera conducted by Steven Osgood
Cast: Matthew Chellis - Virgil the Poet, Chales Robert Stepens - Dante the Pilgrim, Wynn Harmon - Dante the Poet, Caroline Worra - Francesca, Tamara Haskin - Semiramis/ Dido/ Cleopatra/ Helen/ Offstage Voice, Scott Altman - Achilles/ Minos/ Paris/ Tristan.
The Inferno: Excerpts from the Opera for Chorus and Orchestra (2001) 6 minutes
Compiled from the Overture and Dies Irae of the opera Inferno. Performed in concert by the University of Louisville Opera Workshop in October of 2001. The University Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kimcherie Lloyd.
The Inferno: Scene Excerpts from the Opera (2000) 12 minutes
Performed by Manhattan Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra in the Spring of 2000 with conductor Marlon Daniel at the Great Hall of Cooper Union in NYC. Cast: Soprano - N'kenge Simpson, Francesca - Kristin Reiersen, Virgil - Benjamin Warschawski and Dante - Matthew Singer.
Inferno: Symphonic Poem (1999) 12 minutes
Performed at the Manhattan School of Music February 26, 1999 by the Manhattan School of Music Composers’ Orchestra and conducted by Glen barton Cortese.
The Inferno: An Opera in Three Short Acts (1999) 60 minutes
Performed by the NuMillennium Orchestra Conducted by - Glen Barton Cortese, Directed by Darleen Jaeger, Lighting by Tyler Learned, Set Design by Andre Soluri.
English verse translation/libretto by Allison Ryan. Cast: Dante the Pilgrim Matthew Singer, Virgil the Poet - Benjamin Warschawski, Meredith Greenburg, Kristin Reiersen, Stacey-Lynn Bennet - Sop., Madeline Katz - Mez., Lawrence Cummings - Tnr, So Young Choi - Bar., Maxime Alvarez Toledo - Bass Br. World Premiere: March 19 & 21 1999 The Manhattan School of Music - John C. Borden Auditorium - NYC
Inferno: Virgil's Aria (1998) 2 minutes
Conducted by Scott Voyles, Univ. of Louisville Student Orchestra
Virgil: Daniel Weeks
Uof L Graduate Composition Fellowship Recital
Recorded live January 17, 2002 in Comstock hall at the University of Louisville.
The Inferno of Dante: A Study (1998) 13 minutes
Meredith Greenburg & Kristin Reiersen - Sop., Jennifer Arnold & Vielka Kelly - Mez., Julian Robeledo - Tnr, Rolf Grobe - Bar., Charles Sprawls - Bs., Omar Guy & Bruno M. - Vlns., Courtney Sedjwick & Lori Simpson - Vla. Jason Lippman & Melinda Mack - Vc. Gino Faraci - CB. Patrick Soluri - Conductor. (Perf. April 2, 1998 - Student Comp. Concert).