Good country : a chamber opera
Based on a libretto by Cecelia Raker, Good Country is a 45-minute chamber opera about the historical figure Charley Parkhurst, a stagecoach driver in the California Gold Rush who was assigned female at birth and lived life as a man. This piece was written for tenor and trans activist Holden Madagame, along with a cast of four other vocalists and string quartet. The first chapter details the beginnings of my creative process with Cecelia to create and workshop the libretto. The second chapter discusses issues related to the representation of trans characters in opera, and the process behind our decision to cast a trans opera singer as Charley Parkhurst, along with the challenges, rewards, and edifications that resulted from that decision. The third chapter describes the close collaboration I have had with Holden Madagame, including the particularities of writing for his voice and the ossia passages in the final score in order to help the opera’s future producibility with trans singers. The final chapter discusses the way in which I confronted the aria-recitative duality in this opera, and then gives an overview of my motivic development, harmonic language, and instrumentation choices.