The story of Cooperstown is an American story about the great American pastime–baseball. It speaks to the heart of Americans, how our passions easily and guilelessly blur or tear us apart.
Baseball, more than any other major league sport, is deeply woven into the fabric of American culture. It is a metaphor for life.Sasha Matson, composer
Opera and baseball? Opera and jazz? Yeah. An opera about one heart too big and one heart too small that plays out like a present-day Othello, of passion and obsession, and the regret over choices not taken. Cooperstown is a masterful expression of jazz in the Miles Davis tradition.
“It breaks your heart.” That was the poetic language A. Bartlett Giamatti used in his beautiful essay The Green Fields of the Mind, and I am pleased that the Giamatti estate gave us permission to use his text. I began to work backward from there in the fall of 2000.
American (in)Tent is pleased to feature Sasha Matson’s brilliant recording with the incredible American opera singers, Rod Gilfry, Julie Adams, Carin Gilfry, Daniel Montenegro, and Daniel Favela singing this challenging and alluring score. Our thanks to their artistry and for being a part of the American (in)Tent ethos and virtual presence this year at the Edinburgh Fringe 2021.
Whose heart? How was it broken?
In Giamatti ‘s thinking, baseball is a game but al so an art form, with the capacity to express the deepest emotional truths about individuals and society. One has only to pick up the sports pages to see this dynam io acted out against the econ om io and cultural realities of our time.
Baseball has its own speoi fie hi storioal m usioal attributes. One of them is the sound of the stadium organ. That sound led me quickly to scoring the music for a Miles jazz quintet. This particular grouping of instruments is as capable as any large orchestra of realizing music in all its potential variety. The musical materials boil down to the rising three-chord Charge fanfare still heard in stadiums everywhere, which can be turned to the dark side by becoming an altered dominant harmony.
Early on in the composing process I had a sonic picture in my ear of what a finished recording of Cooperstown might sound like. I used as a model the great Blue Note stereo recordings of the late ’50s and early ’60s engineered by Rudy Van Gelder. Trumpet hard left, saxophone hard right-then added the vocal cast of five. —-Sasha Matson