June 6, 2012

Prospero’s Island: Fantasy for Orchestra


Images from the 1976 National Parks Service production of The Tempest, outdoors on tour of the parks in the DC area, including battlefields and the Ellipse opposite the White House. The accompanying music is a composition I wrote in the late 70s, realized here by our friends at Garritan. The cast of the play included Tony Tanner (Prospero), who also directed, myself as Ariel (complete with peach jumpsuit), Sara Rice as Miranda, Richard Niles as her love interest, Richard Lupino as the tipsy mariner, and Jon Polito as Caliban. It was an interesting summer of '76!

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

6 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Your wonderful composition works well with the scenes from the play. How exciting it must be to hear your music performed by a virtual orchestra.

Do you sometimes wear the peach jumpsuit on special occasions? Remember when I outed you on my blog as a priest with an acting past? I was nervous about the post, because I didn't know you well back then, and I wasn't sure how you would receive my little exposé.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thank you, dear Mimi. It is fun to be able to hear some of this music -- I have a few very low quality recordings of live performances of some of my music, from years back when I was "in the biz" -- but most of the recordings don't hold up well. It's fun to be able to hear the music in fresh (though virtual) versions.

As to the jumpsuit... well, it went back into wardrobe. Even if I still had it I doubt it would fit any longer. I had a T-shirt from this production that I gave up on wearing at least 20 years ago.

This was a fun production, and I was reminded of it when I saw the Helen Mirren / J Taymor film. You can see that we were ahead of the trend with "nude" Ariel and large puppets (for the harpy, all in red to frighten the sailors). It is a wonderful play, and the music is actually based on my favorite speech from it, Caliban's "Be not afeard; the isle if full of noises, sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not..." I love the characters of Ariel and Caliban in this play, the former a spirit who looks on humankind from above with a kind of detachment, the latter among the most sensitive characters brutalized by "civilization." Rich stuff!

John-Julian, OJN said...

I remember seeing"The Tempest" in 1969 at the (magnificent, but now closed) Connecticut Stratford Shakespeare Theater with Raymond Burr as Prospero, Roddy McDowall as (a young and cute) Ariel, and Jack Palance as Caliban—awesome casting and one of the theatrical highlights of my life! Even a full-sized shipon stage! And your (young and cute) Ariel reminded me much of McDowall's—very fey, very elfin...

And your music truly is fine!

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, Fr. J-J. That sounds like a spectacular production. Ours was much more modest as it had to tour, and was performed on a moving flatbed stage; it got fairly good notice as I recall.

Thanks for the kind words on the music. I'm now working on realizing a much bigger project -- a 1980 Requiem for Dead Children, originally a large choral work that I'm attempting to orchestrate. One bit of it was actually reused in the Prospero piece -- the In Paradisum forms part of the slower and more meditative part of Prospero. Like Handel I find it sometimes needful to borrow from myself!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Like Handel I find it sometimes needful to borrow from myself!

Tobias, I had a good laugh at that one. The best loans are interest-free.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, Mimi. So true!