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Improvement: An Opera for Television

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    “Before there was Spalding Gray or Laurie Anderson or the 1980s, there was Robert Ashley, the composer who dissected speech, envisioned television opera, and concocted a new kind of musical-theatrical experience,” writes critic Josef Woodard in describing the strikingly original work of Robert Ashley.

    Ashley’s 90-minute oratorio-like piece Improvement premiered in New York in 1991 and was featured in festivals in Berlin and Paris. With a narrative that equates contemporary characters with settings and events from Spain in 1492, Ashley layers levels of reality through the use of vocalists who alternately speak, sing, and declaim his original text.

    Ashley’s music, largely electronic and ambient, sets up atmospheres that are by turns arresting and hypnotic. The performers featured on the recording established themselves as champions of Ashley’s oeuvre and have toured with the composer throughout the US and Europe.

    Credits

    MUSICIANS
    Linda: Jacqueline Humbert
    Don, Mr. Payne, Linda’s Companion: Thomas Buckner
    Now Eleanor: Joan La Barbara
    Junior, Jr.: Sam Ashley
    The Doctor: Adam Klein
    Mr. Payne’s Mother: Amy X Neuburg
    The Narrator: Robert Ashley

    Singers on “Tarzan” (disc 2, track 2) are from the Sanuma and Ye-kuana tribes of Venezuela (verses 1, 5); from the Dominican Republic (verse 2); and from Haiti (verses 3, 4). The Sanuma singer, "Alehandro" (his Spanish name), is a master singer in his village. The Ye-kuana singer Matias
    Fortunado helped in directing the Sanuma and Ye-kuana singers.

    PRODUCTION CREDITS
    Produced by David Rosenboom and Robert Ashley
    Disc 2, track 2 recorded and produced by Sam Ashley.Verses 1, 5 recorded near Rio Paragua, Venezuela; verse 2 in Rio San Juan, Dominican Republic; verses 3, 4 in Port au Prince, Haiti
    All other voices recorded by Tom Erbe at the Center for Contemporary Music, Mills College, Oakland, CA
    Final mixing done by Tom Hamilton at 10 Beach Street, New York
    Disc 1 (except tracks 1, 9, 11) voices and rhythm orchestra mixed by Tom Erbe
    Disc 1, tracks 1, 9, 11, and disc 2 voices and rhythm orchestra mixed by Tom Hamilton
    Additional orchestra parts for disc 1 programmed by Sam Ashley
    Additional orchestra parts for final mix designed and programmed by Robert Ashley and Tom Hamilton
    Digital editing and mastering by Allan Tucker, Foothill Productions, New York, NY

    Music and libretto by Robert Ashley
    Libretto edited by Mimi Johnson

    Design by James Victore Design Works
    Cover photograph by Robert Cavalli

    Executive Producer: David Bither

on May 29, 2008 - 7:14pm
Release Date: 
Tuesday, November 17, 1992 (All day)
Cover Art: 
Nonesuch Selection Number: 

79289

Number of Discs in Set: 
1disc
7
25
Sunday, November 1, 1992 (All day)
0
0
Artist Name: 
Robert Ashley
genre: 
Album Status: 
UPC/Price: 
UPC: 
075597928921BUN
Price: 
16.00
Label: 
CD+MP3
UPC: 
603497120062
Price: 
18.00
Label: 
MP3
Description: 

“Before there was Spalding Gray or Laurie Anderson or the 1980s, there was Robert Ashley, the composer who dissected speech, envisioned television opera, and concocted a new kind of musical-theatrical experience,” writes critic Josef Woodard in describing the strikingly original work of Robert Ashley.

Ashley’s 90-minute oratorio-like piece Improvement premiered in New York in 1991 and was featured in festivals in Berlin and Paris. With a narrative that equates contemporary characters with settings and events from Spain in 1492, Ashley layers levels of reality through the use of vocalists who alternately speak, sing, and declaim his original text.

Ashley’s music, largely electronic and ambient, sets up atmospheres that are by turns arresting and hypnotic. The performers featured on the recording established themselves as champions of Ashley’s oeuvre and have toured with the composer throughout the US and Europe.

DescriptionExcerpt: 

“Before there was Spalding Gray or Laurie Anderson or the 1980s, there was Robert Ashley,” says critic Josef Woodard. With a narrative that equates contemporary characters with settings and events from Spain in 1492, Ashley’s oratorio-like Improvement layers levels of reality through the use of vocalists who alternately speak, sing, and declaim his original text.

ProductionCredits: 

MUSICIANS
Linda: Jacqueline Humbert
Don, Mr. Payne, Linda’s Companion: Thomas Buckner
Now Eleanor: Joan La Barbara
Junior, Jr.: Sam Ashley
The Doctor: Adam Klein
Mr. Payne’s Mother: Amy X Neuburg
The Narrator: Robert Ashley

Singers on “Tarzan” (disc 2, track 2) are from the Sanuma and Ye-kuana tribes of Venezuela (verses 1, 5); from the Dominican Republic (verse 2); and from Haiti (verses 3, 4). The Sanuma singer, "Alehandro" (his Spanish name), is a master singer in his village. The Ye-kuana singer Matias
Fortunado helped in directing the Sanuma and Ye-kuana singers.

PRODUCTION CREDITS
Produced by David Rosenboom and Robert Ashley
Disc 2, track 2 recorded and produced by Sam Ashley.Verses 1, 5 recorded near Rio Paragua, Venezuela; verse 2 in Rio San Juan, Dominican Republic; verses 3, 4 in Port au Prince, Haiti
All other voices recorded by Tom Erbe at the Center for Contemporary Music, Mills College, Oakland, CA
Final mixing done by Tom Hamilton at 10 Beach Street, New York
Disc 1 (except tracks 1, 9, 11) voices and rhythm orchestra mixed by Tom Erbe
Disc 1, tracks 1, 9, 11, and disc 2 voices and rhythm orchestra mixed by Tom Hamilton
Additional orchestra parts for disc 1 programmed by Sam Ashley
Additional orchestra parts for final mix designed and programmed by Robert Ashley and Tom Hamilton
Digital editing and mastering by Allan Tucker, Foothill Productions, New York, NY

Music and libretto by Robert Ashley
Libretto edited by Mimi Johnson

Design by James Victore Design Works
Cover photograph by Robert Cavalli

Executive Producer: David Bither