Opposites Attract (1996) is an affectionate, fanciful tribute written for the 1995 marathon concert in New York celebrating the Virgil Thomson centennial. Subtitled "Portrait of Virgil Thomson,' Opposites Attract might also have been called "Wagner meets Thomson." The idea of the Teutonic arch-Romantic mingling with the cosmopolitan, puckish Midwesterner is deliciously perverse. At the start of Opposites Attract the opening of the "Prelude" from Tristan und Isolde is constantly interrupted by the melody Susan B. Anthony sings to introduce herself in Act I of Thomson's The Mother of Us All. Thomson's music triumphs, and emerges in an animated, three-voice fugue that occasionally brings Beethoven to mind. The energy slackens, and after Del Tredici "appears" through a fleeting allusion to his own Final Alice, Wagner again tries to surface; he is no more successful at prevailing here than at the opening. Another Thomson tune—Susan B. Anthony's down-home hymn (Act I, scene 5) on the hard lot of women—emerges, swathed in distant remnants of the fugue and Final Alice's leaping sixth. [Or is it the leaping sixth of the Tristan "Prelude"?—DDT]. As the piece gradually disintegrates, Wagner (via the Liebestod) sneaks in the last word.
Opposites Attract is dedicated to Jed Distler.
Ballad in Yellow is beguilingly romantic. Wildwood Etude is moody and brooding. Del Tredici deftly reworks themes from Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts in Opposites Attract.