“A Blessing on the Moon” Sneak Peek



Contemporary composer Andy Teirstein‘s newest opera “A Blessing on the Moon” will hitting the main stage at (le) Poisson Rouge on Monday at 6:30. This performance is a preview of the opera’s world premiere in Vancouver on February 11th. In perfect time with Teirstein’s heavily folk-influenced, yet modern style, the work will be performed with the help of the Grammy-nominated Warsaw Village Band.

Teirstein, who’s also currently on the faculty at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, creates sounds that occupy the middle part of an opera and musical theatre Venn diagram. Makes sense, given his musical pedigree. (Teirstein was a student of Bernstein.) His generally tonal, yet by no means cursory style is heavily flavored with the Ciprian scales and rollicking rhythms of Eastern Europe. At his most theatrical, Teirstein conjures impressions of Adam Guettel, only with Klezmer flourishes and boisterous syncopated rhythms indicative of Polish folk music. In moments of a more learned style, Teirstein channels other great ethnomusicological composers; his viola concerto, for example, might be mistaken for a work by Bloch, maybe even a slightly less angsty Bartok.

The libretto of “A Blessing on the Moon” lends itself beautifully to Teirstein’s musical sensibilities; the story of a man’s journey between life and afterlife is hauntingly realized through echoes of Polish folk melodies and derivations of Semitic liturgical music. Teirstein and writer Joseph Skibell drew the libretto from Skibell’s novel of the same name.┬áThe Warsaw Village Band, adept with indigenous instrument such as the tsimbl (a type of hammered dulcimer) may be the most capable group around to handle Teirstein’s score.

Want a preview of the preview? Here’s a quick excerpt, from a developmental version of the show in 2008.


The event will also be streaming live, in case you have to babysit or something.

posted by Forrest Wu