vocal scoreopera in five scenes (1997)
|libretto by Michael Korie
|Commissioned by the 92nd Street Y and the Long Beach Opera and made possible by a grant from the Meet The Composer/Reader's Digest Commissioning Program in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund
|1997 Long Beach, CA, Long Beach Opera · Conductor: Michael Barrett
|Hopper · baritone - Mrs. Hopper · mezzo-soprano - Ava · soprano
|1(pic).0.1(Acl, Ebcl, bcl).sax(ssax, asax, tsax, barsax).1(cbsn)-1.1(pic tpt).0.1-timp.perc(xyl, mar, vibes, glsp, tub bells, b.d, 4tom-t, s.d, kick dr, h.h, sus cym, crash cym, sirene, tam-t)-vn.vc
Hopper’s Wife imagines American scene painter Edward Hopper married to Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper with Ava Gardner as the artist’s model. The opera explores the conflicts between high art and low art, gossip and pornography - through the prism of a crumbling, competitive marriage.
Edward Hopper and his wife both began as painters at the New York Art Students League. Competitiveness entered their marriage as Mrs. Hopper’s need for creative expression was subjugated to her husband’s.
Though Hopper is strongly identified with cityscapes of urban America and landscapes of Truro, Cape Cod, he also painted female nudes. He approached his nudes from a characteristically voyeuristic stance, treating the female body as a screen on which to project unconscious desires. For years, his only model was his wife.
Simultaneously, beginning in the mid-thirties on America’s opposite coast, the vituperative Hedda Hopper became a Hollywood fixture from her radio gossip show, her syndicated column, and her movie appearances in an ever-changing parade of flashy hats. Pandered to and fawned upon by obsequious studios and frightened stars, she wielded great power and venom, eventually cooperating with the reactionary forces behind the blacklist.