Erling Wold: Certitude and Joy
San Francisco Chronicle:
"Best of classical music in 2012."
The opera Certitude and Joy centers on the 2005 story of LaShaun Harris, who was told by God to throw her three children into the San Francisco Bay, which she did, undressing them and killing them all in a brief ritual after a day spent in the city, sightseeing and eating hot dogs. The work is a “bold, heartbreaking operatic meditation on madness and religious faith [that draws] explicit connections between the infanticide stories of the Bible and those of our own day, and [finds] a probing musical language in which to express those ideas” (San Francisco Chronicle).
In it, we see “Wold’s own conflicted attempts to find spiritual reconciliation in a world that holds [the Abraham and Isaac story] to be an act of admirable faith and the second to be an instance of reprehensible insanity. The genius of Wold's libretto is its ability to successfully and simultaneously create a palpable sense of horror and empathy for both stories, casting doubt about how we as a culture view religious certitude and what is an acceptable source, or definition of, joy” (A Beast in a Jungle).
The diverse cast includes Talya Patrick, Laura Bohn, and Jo Vincent Parks who share the main role. In particular the soprano Laura Bohn is “simply astonishing” in the role of Harris, when “in a long and gorgeous monologue of Wagnerian intensity, lovingly offers up her precious children to their heavenly father. You know it’s coming, but the power of the scene is unbearably wrenching even so” (San Francisco Chronicle).
Other Erling Wold recordings on the MinMax label include the critically acclaimed opera A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil, the dream-story of a convent-bound girl by Max Ernst, and Mordake, chronicling the descent of Edward Mordake, born with his sister’s face on the back of his head.
Wold is “a true California eccentric and polymath” (Bachtrack) and has been labeled “the Eric Satie of Berkeley surrealist/ electro-art rock” (Village Voice). His teachers include Gerard Grisey, Andrew Imbrie and John Chowning. Recently, the opera Queer, on the autobiographical novel by William Burroughs, was produced as part of the 25th anniversary of the publication of the book. In addition, his opera UKSUS was produced by the Klagenfurter Ensemble, and his Missa Beati Notkeri Balbuli Sancti Galli Monachi was commissioned by the Abbey of St. Gallen, Switzerland. He has collaborated with electronic and noise musicians, filmmakers (Jon Jost) and dance companies, including interactive audio and video projects with Palindrome Dance, Nürnberg.
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1 God decided to tempt Abraham
2 As a young boy interested in mathematics
3 In 2005 a young woman from Oakland
4 Later, as I read more
5 In writing the libretto
6 The sun was so bright
7 My momma ran over my cat
8 My chosen
9 My friends who took drugs in high school
10 My boys
11 Itís frightening to find yourself filthy, crazy
12 A parent loves her children
13 But you talk to me, you are here with me?
14You choose us
15 My kids
16 When the headaches begin, I am still alone
17 Take your sons, your three sons, whom thou lovest
18 Early the next morning
19 Dear Father, dear Jesus
20 I see the lights form about your brow
21 I did what Iím supposed to do
22 How is heaven holding up?
23 I want to see you
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