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‘When I finished with Aklznatenl had kind of done those big portraits. those personality operas. and I kind offelt that I didn‘t really want to do any more for the time being. 'l‘hat‘s sort of why I changed course so radically. and began working with writers on subjects of a different kind. But there have been some terrific operas like that since then. There's one on in America done by Anthony Davies about Malcolm X. .

‘broader palette’

. . lt‘sa very attractive way of working. to make an opera out of a person. because the whole story’s there. and the personality is there. and it gives it such a clear identity. But I‘m not going to do many more of those. Even the one I‘m doing about (‘olumbus really isn‘t about Columbus very much.‘

For the ‘Portrait' trilogy. and since. Glass has worked in collaboration. and likes it that way. In fact. (jlass‘s hypnotic score for the wordless Godfrey Reggio film. Koyuant‘squtsi. must take a full 50 per cent ofthe credit for the film's success. and it introduced the composer‘s work to a yet wider audience.

‘l've never worked any other way.‘ he replies. when asked if he has any urge to write a theatre work on his own. ‘Do you mean the old 19th

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Century way ofdoing it'.’ No. I don't think so. I think one of the interesting things about theatre today is that these works are often joint works. where people come together and everyone brings with them a part of the work. and you fashion it together in a group way. 'l‘hat‘s part ofwhat I like to do: working with David. or Jerry Sirlin or Bob Wilson. and the other people I‘ve worked with. ’l‘he advantage of course is that people bring a distinctive. a creative contribution to the piece.‘

One notable project that saw ( ilass on the fringes of the pop world. which he. with his working methods and studio experience. had been skirting all his career was 1985‘s Songs ofl.t'qurd I )uy's. music by Philip (ilass. lyrics by Paul Simon. David Byrne. Laurie Anderson and Suzanne Vega.

‘l was about to start working with Doris Lessing on her opera. and I wanted to make a transition into working with the English language in a smaller fortn. Before that I had worked with Sanskrit and Egyptian. and even the Hopi Indian language. Sol thought I‘d start with a shorter project. and asked people who were friends of mine who were songwriters. I thought they would know more about writing for the voice than anybody else. and l was right about that. Then I began to

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look around for the singers to do it. and I got all different kinds of singers to do it. people from the world of opera to'l'hc Roches. which is a pop ensemble. to Linda Ronstadt. a funk singer like Bernard l’ovv let', lt vvas a way of reintroducing tnyscll to vocal music in the linglish language.‘

It was also a vv elcome album for the some discriminating sections of the pop audience. among vv horn ( ilass had been the hip name to drop tor years. especially once

‘isn‘t popular culture‘ Koy'uuntvvqulst become an overnight cult success. After that. and his score

for Paul Schradcr"s .lltv/tunu. ( ilass was commissioned to vv t‘itc the .1 openingand closing themes for the 1084 l.os Angelcs()lympics. an ollet' vyhich. understandably ‘totally surprised‘ him.

One thing he does take obvious pride in is that a large nutnber ol the people vs ho come to see his vvorks have clearly never been inside an opera house in their lives. Also. sections of the more mainstream

classical audience are slow ly coming round to his music.

‘I think w e‘vc found that to be true I think also audiences hay e generally changed. not just vy ith regard to me People have a much broader palette now than they had. I think because so much tnore v arier has been

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oflcted. But people that go to something of mine might also go to hear Ravi Shankar or to the theatre. and I think liltns hav e also tnade people a little more open about what they goto.‘

l lovv ev er . as he touts IUUU .‘lll‘p/(lllt’y around liuropc he's still not confident that a ( ilass opera will ever attract audiences of ( 'urv-like proportions.

‘l’hat’s not on the cards. is it'.’ ()n the other hand :1 Alina/en continues to play in different L'Ilies. and there's a new production in vaederi this summer. they ‘r'c doing it again in (iertnany nest year. and I think it’s going back to l .ondon iii a year or so. 'l'herc's a great difference. (l ltls isn‘t really poptrlat culture. that's all there is to it. 11'” still be. for many people. abstract and serious work. In the States. and l think here too. every body goes to ( ‘ttlv. 'l hey can be people trom small tovv ns w ho cotnc to New York to go sightseeing. and they 'll buy tickets to see a Broadway show . bttt they rnrght not go to the opera.‘

‘abstract and serious‘ I’ll/U .‘llI'/)/(Ult'\ (HI l/It' Roof opens a! 'lilrt'ulrr' lv’oyu/ IIIJ/ .i’J’l [.334 (14/313 (ll/(III) on /U .l/uv' (Ultl runs until 13 .lltrv. I'llHt/(‘ltlllv tn listings net! Issue. 1/. Butterfly 1v u!r/n'.S/m/levlnrry' V/illl'tlll't'. /.()II(I(HI IU/ tin/5399)

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