November 19, 1988 | Dallas Opera
The Aspern Papers
Composer:Dominick Argento
Librettist:Dominick Argento
Juliana Bordereau, a former prima donna and mistress of the composer Aspern, is living with her spinster niece, Tina, in a secluded villa on the edge of Lake Como. A stranger appears, requesting that the two women rent him a room at the villa. The lodger is a scholar and biographer of the composer Aspern, and he believes that Juliana may have in her possession the score of an operatic masterpiece, believed lost, that Aspern wrote for her shortly before his death sixty years earlier. The action alternates between two time periods: The summer of 1895, when the lodger is attempting to discover whether a score of Aspern's opera Medea exists, and the summer of 1835, where we see the young Juliana and Aspern, learn about a relationship between Aspern and a young soprano, Sonia, and find out about the fate of the opera Medea. Juliana dies, and Tina suggests that the stranger may have the score to the opera if he will consent to marry her. He rejects her offer and plans to leave the next day. In the morning, he tells Tina that he has changed his mind and must have the score. She tells him that it is too late, and he departs. Later, alone in her music room, Tina drops the score of the opera-page by page-into a blazing fire.

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Illinois Opera TheaterThe Aspern Papers2/1/1994 - 2/20/1994

OPERA America/Opera.ca Grants Awarded
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The Opera Fund: Audience Development 2012
Opera for the Eighties and Beyond 1988
Opera for the Eighties and Beyond 1987
Opera for the Eighties and Beyond 1986

Title Information

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Musical Style
Rich harmonic palette: neo-romantic with some dodecaphony and bel canto influences. Strong tonal centers.

Vocal & Musical Forces
Dramatic Soprano, 2 Lyric Mezzo-Sopranos, Lyric Tenor, Baritone, Bass; Off-stage SATB Chorus

Original Cast
Elisabeth Söderström (Juliana Bordereau)
Neil Rosenshein (Aspern)
Eric Halfvarson (Barelli)
Katherine Ciesinski (Sonia)
John Calvin West (A Painter/Pasquale)
Frederica von Stade (Tina)
Richard Stilwell (The Lodger)
Joan Gibbons (Olimpia)

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