Book, Music, Lyrics by Noa Ain. A Jazz Chamber Opera for 3 or 4 musicians and 3 singers
Trio is one hour and 20 min. in length and is made of 32 songs
The original version was produced by Lyn Austin and Margo Lion at the Lenox Arts Center. Trio (revised) had its official premiere co-produced by Susan Feldman and The Arts at St. Ann's, John baskind and Carnegie Hall, Marjorie Samoff and AMTF.
AUDIO RECORDING MADE OPENING NIGHT IN THE ATRIUM OF THE PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF ART
Your Great Grandmother was a Gypsy Lady
Karla Burns I Grandmother
Val Eley I Daughter
Inside me is a Dancer
Val Ely l Daughter
Novella Nelson l Mother
NEW YORK TIMES ARTS & LEISURE
OCTOBER 14, 1984
"Trio," a "jazz chamber opera" that opens Wednesday evening at Carnegie Recital Hall and is repeated there Thursday, Friday and Saturday, is a haunting, heartening gem about a grandmother, mother and pregnant daughter. The music and lyrics are by Noa Ain; although no particular song struck me as a hit when I saw the July premiere in Philadelphia, the whole is touchingly poetic.
There is no real plot; Dahlia (Val Eley) is about to give birth. In a series of 32 songs (some only a few seconds long), she, her mother Francine (Novella Nelson), and grandmother Mary (Karla Burns), explore their loves and hostilities, reminisce, and fantasize and affirm familiness in preparation for extending it to a new generation.
There was a special kind of lyricism and vibrancy in the Philadelphia performance which featured the same cast. The audience was spellbound. Miss Eley gave a beautiful, varied, open performance; Miss Burns sang stunningly, and all three women were utterly involving.
CARNEGIE HALL LETTER
DECEMBER 17, 1984
I was the producer for Carnegie Hall of Noa Ain's piece "Trio", which received its New York premiere at Carnegie Recital Hall in October 1984. The world premiere of the work was in Philadelphia at the American Music Theater Festival. Carnegie Hall and myself were involved in the entire development process.
In my opinion Trio represented the most important new music/theater work to be presented in New York this season, and I would include in this assessment the latest offerings by Philip Glass and Giancarlo Menotti.
When I first heard the music for Trio, at a preliminary run-through, (a reading with piano), I was immediately struck by the freshness and originality of the writing, which never seems to rely on any one particular style or source, while being extremely eclectic. Ms. Ain's use of color and her uncanny ability to create unusual and beautiful textures astounded me then and continues to do so.
This music is very easy to listen to. And yet, as one listens further, one is surprised by the rhythmic complexity, which passes one by at first listening. She archives a richness of orchestration in her work which is remarkable, considering that what we are hearing is a piece for only three instruments and three singers.
The reason I felt so strongly about this piece form the first hearing was that in many ways this piece is a bold departure from the current strains of Neo-Romanticism, with its nostalgic evocation of the musical past, and the simplistic dullness of the major Minimalist works in this genre.
What it is is harder to define.
This music is direct and fresh and eclectic and very hard to pin down. It uses the many strains of American music, but without obvious quotation, and without pandering. Although new, it is familiar enough to be accessible. What is also unique is that her music is consistently a very personal and therefore direct and therefore true artistic expression.
I would like to recommend this work on another level, too.
Trio represents to me a firm pointer of the direction in which opera must go if it is to survive as an art form in times that are becoming fiscally more difficult.
To survive as art in the second half of the twentieth century and beyond opera must necessarily become a more democratic institution; the scale of work must be smaller, and it should deal with things that matter to the ordinary people who will listen to and see it. To be writing Aida in 1984 makes no sense.
This chamber opera involves three musicians and three singers, deals very beautifully with basic human concerns and conflicts which are basic to all families at all times, and at all social levels. It is capable of being very simply staged, and is well within the scope of any reasonably well-equipped house, while it maintains all the elements-(drama, universal themes, beautiful music which lends itself admirably to being sung by fine voices)-of classical Opera.
Assistant to the Managing Director.
NOA AIN FEATURED IN THE NY TIMES CROSSWORD PUZZLE
JULY 26, 1991
MUSIC AND LYRICS I NOA AIN
DIRECTOR I HILARY BLECHER
SET I MAYA LIN
GRANDMOTHER I KARLA BURNS
DAUGHTER I VAL ELEY
MOTHER I NOVELLA NELSON
PIANO/LEADER I THEO SAUNDERS
BASS I JOHN CARBONE
GUITAR I FRED HAND
VIOLIN I TERRY KING