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Socially I never was an outsider. I have never thought of the conflict element before frankly, but perhaps it was wanting to belong, and at the same time wanting to retain one's own personality.
People in very high places suddenly fall, and we are always surprised because we don't factor in the basic element that they're humans and, therefore, they are flawed and have weaknesses.
Our most intimate contact with civilizations long since dust has been through the art which has survived them.
Opera is given so little attention in the national press.
Most of the important composers in our country are clustered in the Northeast.
Like any other composer of opera, I choose a subject not for polemical reasons, but because it contains vivid characters in highly charged dramatic situations.
It's necessary to track characters all the way through an opera. If you're dealing with more than one or two characters, it's very easy to forget that the others have lives of their own that feed into the story.
It's amazing how fast generations lose sight of other generations. One of the first things the young composers who come to work with me say is that they want to write music people will like, instead of gaining their credentials by being rejected by the audience.
It seems to me opera is just as relevant as an expressive art as anything else.
If something is successful with the audience, it's automatically suspect; the reverse is to say that not to reach audiences is the greatest compliment an artist can receive!
If I felt that one of my operas did not come off I would certainly say so.
If an American audience is given a serious musical theater piece that is well produced, dramatically gripping and wonderfully acted, they'll respond to it.
I've never set out consciously to write American music. I don't know what that would be unless the obvious Appalachian folk references.
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