Voice & Piano
May 15, 2007
Chris Pedro Trakas / David Del Tredici
Merkin Hall, NYC
Commissioned by The Riverside Opera Ensemble

texts of John Kelly

Gay Song Cycle
  • 1.I I I I I
  • 2.Passion Lurking (Ballad)
  • 3.These Lousy Corridors
  • 4.The "L" Word
  • 5.Post-Performance Discussion (Recitative)
  • 6.This Solid Ground / The Best By Far (Aria)
  • 7.The State of the Soul (Chorale Prelude)
  • 8.Brother (Lament)
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Boosey & Hawkes

The eight songs in "Love Addiction" all yearn for love. Though the focus shifts from each to the next, the hunger, passion, and remorseless "SEARCH" remain painful constants — idées fixes.

John Kelly's poetry captures so well a gay man's pursuit of love, sex and connection in a big "metal" city — the shifting partners, the loneliness of dark bars, backrooms and baths, the sudden bright light of connection to an "ardent," reciprocating partner ("50/50"). The fear of intimacy ("The L-Word," i.e. , love) is eloquently detailed. The pains of geographical separation ("soon to be 3000 miles away"), of abandonment ("a second time I crave..") and of memory ("This solid ground warps under a memory of you") are all vividly expressed.

A love so relentlessly self-centered seems, to me, virtually an addiction. The flame of intensity always illuminated the author, while the partners, often shifting, remain in shadow. Perhaps the obsessive first song ("I I I I I") encapsulates this addictive edge most succinctly. And "speaking of self-centered), towards the end of the last song, "Brother," I "sign" my own name, i.e. , the baritone interjects a count, in Italian from 1 (uno) to 13 (tredici).

– David Del Tredici, May 2007
But one work really polarized the audience: David Del Tredici's "This Solid Ground," a group of songs-in-progress, which were heart-stoppingly exposed and lush, and sung with an arresting, raw, and nakedly nonclassical voice by John Kelly, a performance artist. A critic sitting next to me gasped and refused to applaud. Here was something new and bold, meticulously wrought and quite surprising..."