Clint’s 4th opera is a collaboration with director and librettist John De Los Santos based on the poetry of Gavin Dillard. It tells the story of an accomplished author, called the Poet, who is struggling with writer’s block and isolation. He is contacted by an eager young fan, known as the Muse, who is interested in both an artistic and personal correspondence. At first reluctant, the Poet joins the Muse in a sensual game of literary discovery that leads the two into unexpected realms of unbridled eroticism. Through their poems, they unleash one another’s pasts, demons, and secret longings. Their harmonized writings culminate with a final meeting in the flesh that transcends beyond what either of them ever believed was possible when they first put pen to paper.
The Poet is struggling with loneliness and writer’s block. He is contacted by the much younger Muse, who admires the Poet’s past work, and insists on contacting him using his own poems. At first resistant to the Muse’s vigorous advances, the Poet eventually relents to see where this unexpected relationship will lead him and his writing.
Second Exchange: Fancy for Matches
Confident in his wit and physical wiles, the Muse pours all his energy into his poems and rejects any advances from others around him. The Poet is amused and invigorated, but cautious. The two continue to learn more about the other and flirt, but the Poet maintains a safe distance. The Muse is determined to conquer his mentor’s resolve.
Third Exchange: A Garden of Teeth
The Poet has regained much of his youthful exuberance and energy thanks to the Muse’s writings. He feels more alive and creative than he has in years. The Muse is equally excited and the two of them express their anticipation of finally meeting. Their poems eventually become more and more erotic, until the two of them share an intensely sexual experience unlike any either of them have had in their adventurous pasts (their lust is portrayed in a pas de deux by the two dancers).
Fourth Exchange: Two Nooses
The two men share embarrassing anecdotes about their youth. The Muse bemoans the distance between them as well as the Poet’s lack of amorous reciprocation. The Poet, having regained much physical strength, chastises the Muse for his immature expectations. Through violent imagery, the Poet reveals more of his nature (much of it unpleasant) and declares that he is who he is. As the Muse crumbles in disbelief, the Poet abruptly declares his love.
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WHEN ADONIS CALLS
Music by Clint Borzoni
Libretto by John de los Santos
poems by Gavin Geoffrey Dillard
The Poet – Grant Youngblood, baritone
The Muse – Michael Weyandt, baritone
dancers – Asher Gelman and Matthew Hardy
with string quartet and percussion, conducted by Jennifer Peterson
operamission, presented at OPERA America’s New Works Forum, January 12, 2017, Marc A. Scorca Hall, directed and choreographed by John de los Santos