"Jailhouse" and (pavane for a dead infant) (2009)
singer (sop or mez) and septet
fl cl perc pno vln vla vc
This song is from the chamber opera Voir Dire (2009-10), a collaboration with librettist Jason Zencka. The (pavane for a dead infant) which follows "Jailhouse" is a musical epilogue to this tragic soliloquy.
The protagonist and narrator in this scene is a woman choosing not to post bail on a public intoxication charge, so that she can stay in the jail. She is homeless in winter and has nowhere else to go. She tells the story of how she got to this point: a previous terminated pregnancy, misplaced but very human faith in a man, deception, abuse, and infanticide. It is a story about a woman who has little left but her humanity.
This story, and many others inspired by real court cases, join to form a unique libretto inspired by Jason's experience as a crime-reporter in Stephen's Point, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
premiere: Sofia Jernberg and Ensemble NEO, Ljudvågor Festival (Visby, Sweden), May 14 2009
additional performances: Grand Forks, ND, November 2009; Opera Vista (Houston, TX), March 2011; St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN), October 2011