Composer Farrar holds opera masterclass


The D’Angelo Department of Music recently held a masterclass titled "Fairytales and Fantasies" on Thursday, May 7.

The class featured the Library Director at St. Bonaventure University Paul Spaeth and Jordan Farrar, composer of the opera "The Day Boy and The Night Girl."

The audience was small, and mainly consisted of music students who wanted to learn more about next year’s opera.

Spaeth opened the class with a discussion of George McDonald, who wrote the original novel "The Day Boy and The Night Girl." He discussed how McDonald is one of the biggest influences on fantasy writing, most notably on J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis.

The plot of "The Day Boy and The Night Girl" is about a witch who raises two children in opposite environments, with the boy only knowing light, and the girl only knowing the dark. They eventually meet, and though their worlds are very different, they fall in love.

Farrar has taken this classic piece of Victorian Literature and created an opera around it. However, Farrar said, her opera is a little "darker than the original story." She went on to talk about differences that her opera has with McDonald’s original story, and why she chose to make those changes. She said it is really about paradox and the choices that the characters make.

"The Day Boy and The Night Girl" is being produced by the After Dinner Opera Company, which is in residence at Mercyhurst College. ADO has a history of producing new American operas. Louisa Jonason, who is the head of ADO, as well as the chair of the music department, said she listened to many composers, and many new operas, but Farrar’s music was very different. She said, "it doesn’t make any judgments, it just presents," and the audience can take what they want from it.

The students involved in the world premiere are very excited. "It will be interesting, something new people haven’t seen before. I’m confident that it will be a great production," freshman Katie Wagner said.