Robin de Raaff: Waiting for Miss Monroe, opera (2015)
Waiting for Miss Monroe, opera in 3 acts for 10 singers and orchestra (2011-12) libretto by Janine Brogt
01 Act I (Workday) Opening 03:02 02 Act I (Workday) Action delayed 03:45 03 Act I (Workday) Don’t give in to your fear 07:06 04 Act I (Workday) Interlude I 00:18 05 Act I (Workday) Yes? 03:55 06 Act I (Workday) I must tell you this, Doctor 01:16 07 Act I (Workday) Goddess, well 05:28 08 Act I (Workday) I had this dream last night 02:30 09 Act I (Workday) I feel wonderful today 00:47 10 Act I (Workday) Show them attention and they treat you like dirt 02:16 11 Act I (Workday) Interlude II 00:27 12 Act I (Workday) No Marilyn 03:39 13 Act I (Workday) Can I speak to Paula for a moment, please? 04:59 14 Act I (Workday) Action! 03:19 15 Act I (Workday) Cut! 04:25
01 Act II (Birthday) Introduction 02:57 02 Act II (Birthday) Can’t do her b-b-back like this 02:58 03 Act II (Birthday) Is the President here? 06:17 04 Act II (Birthday) Maybe in another world 04:32 05 Act II (Birthday) I’m here baby 07:08 06 Act II (Birthday) Ladies and gentlemen 02:38 07 Act II (Birthday) You’re fired! 01:14 08 Act II (Birthday) To the gorgeous blonde 05:54 09 Act II (Birthday) Happy birthday 01:48 10 Act II (Birthday) Paula, when I die 01:58
11 Act III (Deathday) Introduction 02:09 12 Act III (Deathday) Will Miss Monroe’s services henceforth 04:36 13 Act III (Deathday) Interlude I 01:22 14 Act III (Deathday) I’m here, Foxy dear 03:25 15 Act III (Deathday) Marilyn, I want you to come back to my studio 04:31 16 Act III (Deathday) Interlude II 00:51 17 Act III (Deathday) Who’s speaking? 02:20 18 Act III (Deathday) Eve, tell me I’m a great woman 01:23 19 Act III (Deathday) Interlude II 00:34 20 Act III (Deathday) What are nights for, I wonder 06:21 21 Act III (Deathday) There shall not be one minute in an hour 01:46 22 Act III (Deathday) Interlude IV 00:28 23 Act III (Deathday) Was it goodbye? 02:58
Laura Aikin (Marilyn Monroe), Dale Duesing (Fox), Helena Rasker (Paula), David DQ Lee (Whitey), Maria Kowan (Eve), Alain Coulombe (Gable), Tom Randle (DiMaggio), John Tessier (John F. Kennedy), Daniel Belcher (Robert F. Kennedy), Hendrickje Van Kerckhove (Norma Jeane) Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Steven Sloane
The Dutch National Opera presents this World Premiere Recording of the opera 'Waiting for Miss Monroe' by leading Dutch composer Robin de Raaff. Star soprano Laura Aikin performs as the main protagonist in the role of Marylin Monroe, backed by the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Steven Sloane.
Following 'RAAFF' (2004), composer Robin de Raaff thought twice about throwing himself into such an enormous project as an opera again. That is until Marilyn Monroe crossed his path: the fifties' idol who preferred to entrust her deepest secrets to a tape recorder rather than to her psychiatrist. The tapes that were found still exist, but have not been released, and this fact took root in the composer's mind. Janine Brogt, who worked with him previously wrote a penetrating libretto. In three acts and a total of 90 minutes - the classic Hollywood film format - we witness the final months of the life of Marilyn Monroe.
Robin de Raaff and Janine Brogt: "It's not a biography, but rather a meditation on the character. We use the reality to get to her inner being: to her loneliness, her fears, her triumphs and her demons. She grew older and felt the competition of younger actresses, and was pressured by producers to keep making comedies, whereas she had serious ambitions. Her attempts at finding her own way through all this stopped abruptly with her death. This opera lets you experience that again."
The Dutch National Opera is the largest opera company in the Netherlands and is housed in Dutch National Opera & Ballet, in Amsterdam. Under the leadership of artistic director Pierre Audi and the managing director of Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Els van der Plas, DNO has grown into one of the most important and pioneering opera companies in Europe.
Act I :: Work day Spring 1962. The day’s shoot at the Fox Film Studio is being held up because the star, Marilyn Monroe, has not shown up for work. The entire production crew is on hold and Fox, the influential film producer, seethes at the thought of the financial consequences. Fox suspects that Marilyn’s drama coach Paula Strasberg and her make- up artist Whitey know more about her absence than they let on, and he takes out his anger and frustration on them. When he learns that Marilyn has called in sick without him being notified, he is infuriated even more, and demands to speak to her personally, by telephone at least. Meanwhile Marilyn, unperturbed, poses for the young photographer Eve. The mood is amiable and professional, the two women taking the occasional champagne break. Marilyn is fascinated by Eve’s pregnancy; she is worried she will never have a baby herself. Marilyn is clearly enamored with the photographer’s camera, in sharp contrast to her acute fear of the film camera. Eve cannot understand Marilyn’s anxiety. Their conversations are dotted with moments in which Marilyn suddenly withdraws into herself, speaking into a tape recorder. She explains that this is how she communicates with her psychiatrist, being unable to talk to him directly. These sessions with the tape recorder are her escape from reality. An attendant repeatedly appears with the message that Marilyn is wanted on the telephone. When she finally answers, Fox informs her of his plan to resume shooting with a stand-in; she hastens to the studio in order to prevent this. The entire studio crew springs into action with Marilyn’s arrival. The stand- in vanishes discreetly. Marilyn is ready for her scene, but her co-actors, two children, are absent as their legally allotted studio time has been taken up with waiting for her. When the director calls for a different scene, this one with a dog, Marilyn is unsure of herself, not having prepared her lines. After some commotion with the dog, who is not as well trained as expected, the take goes well. Even the scene with the children can be shot after all. Everyone is relieved, but to Fox’s chagrin Marilyn leaves again, flying to New York to sing at President Kennedy’s birthday party.
Act II :: Birthday In a Madison Square Garden dressing room, Paula and Whitey attempt to get Marilyn dressed and made up for her performance at the president’s birthday celebration. Having tried to suppress her panic with alcohol and pills on her way to New York, Marilyn is now nearly paralytic. In lucid moments she demands that the president come to her dressing room. She claims he has promised to marry her. Paula and Whitey find it nearly impossible to make her presentable, and time is running out. Marilyn reads a telegram and col- lapses. It is not from the president, but from Fox: Marilyn has been fired for jetting off to New York without permission. The shock of the telegram causes Marilyn to lose her grip on reality. She calls out for her father, and two father figures promptly appear: film idol Clark Gable and her ex-husband, the baseball star Joe DiMaggio. They both come to her aid. Gable assures her she was not the cause of his death, and Joe swears she will always be the only woman for him. They accompany her backstage, but before she is to make her entrance they disappear and are replaced by John and Robert Kennedy. At first they too admire Marilyn and amuse her with their boyish wit and rivalry. But then the atmosphere takes a turn for the worse: they mistreat her and call her a whore. Gable and DiMaggio likewise turn against her. Marilyn somehow manages to pull herself together enough to reach the microphone and perform her legendary rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. During the applause she has a premonition of death.
Act III :: Death day Fox is waiting in his office for Marilyn. He has been forced to rehire her, as there were no suitable replacements with her star status. Marilyn, meanwhile, has started her own production company, and Fox has had to engage her through her own business. When she appears – late, as usual – he tries to win her over, first with flattery and then, when that fails, with intimidation. Marilyn says she never felt appreciated by him and sticks to her guns, albeit with the crutch of alcohol and drugs. She wins the confrontation, but pays for the victory in emotional strain. At home alone, Marilyn is plagued by insomnia and loneliness. She tries to contact the Kennedys, but they rebuff her. The snub upsets her already shaky mental balance. She has no support or companionship. After yet more alcohol and pills she again sinks into a different reality: she is confronted with her younger self, Norma Jeane, who is prepared to do whatever it takes to enjoy a successful Hollywood career. She is surrounded by men who had once admired her. She sees Marilyn as a pathetic has-been, and abandons her to her own fate. Marilyn cracks. From death, she observes the events surrounding her demise with amazement and distance.
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