Petr Kotik chamber opera, Master-Pieces (2014-2015) will receive its first staged performance in the U.S. at Bohemian National Hall (NYC) on Saturday, April 28, 2018 (8:30 pm). The 70-minute work was commissioned by the new opera festival NODO (Czech Republic), which premiered it in 2014. The revised and final version was performed at the Ostrava Days 2015 Festival and directed by Jiří Nekvasil, who will stage the New York performance.
Petr Kotik - Master-Pieces (2014-15)
Christina Kay, Soprano
Steven Wilson, Tenor
Jose Pietri-Coimbre, Baritone
Nicholas Hay, Bass
Pauline Kim Harris, Violin
Liuh-Wen Ting, Viola
Amanda Gookin, Cello
Jeffrey Reinhardt, English Horn/Oboe
Tim Leopold, Trombone
Chris Nappi, Percussion
Master-Pieces is a meditation on the nature of the creative process, and on works that we identify as masterpieces. Kotiks libretto uses text from Gertrude Steins 1936 lecture, “What Are Master-Pieces and Why Are There So Few of Them.” The piece combines a conversation among the singers with a quasi-lecture, interrupted by three narrators whose text comes from Steins diary she kept from 1943 to 1944, "The Wars I Have Seen." The diary refers to situations Stein experienced during WWII and places the opera in a certain time and space.
Stein states, “the masterpiece has nothing to do with human nature or with identity, it has to do with the human mind and entity. It is a thing in itself and not in relation.” The opera develops this idea by asking: When we do something, is it about ourselves (identity), or about the work itself (entity)? A focus on oneself diminishes the chance of doing something extraordinary: if it is that, it will not be a masterpiece. This is why a masterpiece is timeless and cannot be identified with its author while, simultaneously, it is tied to its author and is an expression of its time.
Kotiks Master-Pieces goes beyond the spectacle of musical performance, investigating a meaningful subject within a theatrical setting. The works energy comes from the very questions raised by Stein in her lecture, as she continuously veers away from her subject to contemplate and investigate issues of creative processes and the relationship between artists and the work they create. The words – sometimes sung and sometimes spoken – strive to retain the poetry of Steins language while opening various layers of meaning.