‘Waiting For Miss Monroe’ on CD

waiting 4 mm cd

Robin De Raaff’s opera, Waiting For Miss Monroe, was staged at the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam in 2012, starring Laura Aikin as Marilyn. A CD recording is now available, with a 4-star review from The Guardian‘s Andrew Clements.

“In Waiting for Miss Monroe, De Raaff and his librettist Janine Brogt concentrate on the last few months of the star’s life in 1962, including her famous appearance at President Kennedy’s birthday party, the problems surrounding her final film, and her lonely death, when she is confronted by memories of her former self, Norma Jean, and rejected by all the men who formerly worshipped her. De Raaff and Brogt are emphatic that what they devised is not a biopic but a fictionalised work that attempts to explore Monroe’s inner world, as revealed in her conversations with a young woman, Eve, who arrives to take photographs of her, which are intercut with the film studio confrontations and the Kennedy party.

It all works convincingly enough up to a point. The text is sung in English and some of Raaff’s vocal writing, wide-ranging but fundamentally tonal, curiously echoes passages in the later work of Michael Tippett, The Ice Break especially, though Raaff’s orchestral writing is much more unbuttoned and eclectic. Yet the passages of melodrama, when the characters resort to spoken dialogue, somehow breaks the operatic spell; it’s as if the music is abdicating its expressive responsibilities in a work that otherwise doesn’t flinch from the having the most commonplace exchanges sung. The score is haunted by the ghosts of songs associated with Monroe, especially I Wanna Be Loved By You, though the references are never too explicit. It is an intelligent if not entirely successful attempt on a tempting but, perhaps in the end, a dramatically intractable subject.”

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