Something Old, Something New is featured in our new opera Octavian and Cleopatra It was a labor of love for Sharon and David Ohrenstein. Incidentally, it only has two spoken words for dramatic effect: When Cleopatra and Octavian see each other for the 1st time, they speaks each other’s names. . The opera was written under great difficulty and many obstacles.
- There was no funding and little time.
- We were raising three small children.
- We had no spare income for the opera.
So How Did we Do It?
Sharon starred as Cleopatra, She also wrote the story and libretto. David played the piano for the world premier. He also composed the music. They were the moving company for the props and costumes that they mostly assembled by themselves. The work took almost two years. They often worked on the opera nightly until 1 or 2AM. In this regard, had they not have been married, the opera would never have been written.
So what’s Something Old, Something New?
There have been operas written about Cleopatra. No one, to our knowledge, has written one about Octavian and Cleopatra. I really believe it took Sharon’s genius to find the story. That’s something old, something new. Below is a list of some of the existing Cleopatra operas:
- Antony and Cleopatra is an opera in three acts by American composer Samuel Barber. The libretto was prepared by Franco Zeffirelli. It was based on the play Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare and made use of Shakespeare’s language exclusively.\
- Massenet’s Cléopâtre, by one France’s greatest opera composers, from the Champs-Elysées Theatre,
- La Cleopatra was commissioned by Empress Catherine II of Russia in 1788. Writers were Cimarosa and Moretti Musically the opera is made up of mostly arias with only a few duets, a quartet, a ballet, and a march. The work premiered at the Theater Eremitage in Saint Petersburg, Russia on September 27, 1789.
- Cesare e Cleopatra is a dramma per musica in three acts by composer Carl Heinrich Graun. The opera uses an Italian language libretto by Giovan Gualberto Bottarelli.
So what has happened since? We say never give up. There is tremendous interest in our writing. People are looking for something different including:
- An opera filled with beautiful arias in the same manner that Richard Rodgers wrote for Broadway musicals.
- A meaningful story with a transformation. In this case: Octavian goes from being a low and debauched character to the 1st emporer king of Rome. He was renamed Augustus.
- Placing women on a pedestal. As the new king Augustus did for Cleopatra.
We have the full performance on video. We still need backers. That hasn’t changed. But the times have dramatically changed over the last 20 years. People are looking for meaning and beauty in opera. Our Octavian and Cleopatra offers exactly that. Be the 1st to have the new sound of the 21st century in your home town!