Fool


Phantom Femme #1 (1998) by David Nez


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Scene I Sunday: mountain music

Scene II Monday: the cricket's wedding

Scene III Tuesday: village dances and the cook of love

Scene IV Wednesday: flirting at the farmhouse

Scene V Thursday: sitting in a tavern, the Devil decides to get married

Scene VI Friday: three wives (at least)

Scene VII Saturday: marching to a different drummer

A spry fortune-telling Roma on her wanderings meets an dashing, murderous outlaw in Rumelian hinterlands. Their path comes to a mountain village, and they meet a young shepherd, the village ingenue, and an old epic singer. Through their interactions and songs, occasioned by the Roma's tarot cards, we hear surprising stories of the past and future, peopled with characters from other times and places, including even the Devil himself!

"Rumelia" is the historic Turkish name for the southern Balkan areas of the Ottoman Empire ("Rumeli" means "land of the Romans"). A musical window into the lives of characters I repeatedly came across, during my research of the music from the different folk traditions throughout this culturally diverse and expansive area, this opera was an exploration of my family tree, which includes Bulgarian, Romanian, Albanian, Vlach, Greek, FYR Macedonian, Slovenian, Croatian, Hungarian, and Austrian roots.

Characters
Roma, spry fortune teller (alto)
Hajduk, heroic outlaw who plays a mean fiddle (baritone)
Vixen, village ingenue (soprano)
Youth, shepherd boy (tenor)
Guslar, old epic Singer of Tales (tenor, same singer as Youth)
Bear (spoken role)

Instrumentation : flute/piccolo, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion

"Nez has scooped a sampling of folk tunes, speared gnarly rhythms, and simmered them into a stringent but satisfying potpourri, spiced with paprika wit and wisdom. . . ." Fred Bouchard, Boston Musical Intelligencer

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