In May 2015, I came across the following ad online:
“I’m a Peruvian composer working on a project to adapt a play from the 1920’s into an opera. I’m looking for a librettist that might be interested in such a project. A dramatist friend and I have already created a draft version but it wouldn’t be necessary to be faithful to it. Ideas on how to improve it would be most welcome and you would work with freedom to make changes (as long as they are for the benefit of the end result).
The idea is to team up, and present the final libretto to independent opera companies for its performance.
I prefer to be reserved about the subject but I assure you it is a very good one. The play itself is well known and has been a source of inspiration for important novels and movies.
If you are interested, let me know and I will send you the draft version without any compromise on your part.”
It turned out that not only was the “Peruvian composer” in question none other than Antonio Gervasoni – “one of the leading Peruvian composers of his generation”, but the “subject” was also the Czech writer Karel Capek’s “RUR” – the work that introduced the word “robot” into the English language! I couldn’t help but be inspired!
The libretto went through a number of drafts, and Antonio and I corresponded almost daily. As well as the privilege of working on such a rich theme, it was this close contact which makes the writing process stand out so clearly in my mind.
Now that the libretto has been written, the ball’s in Antonio’s court. And what a court it is! I’ve already heard his first efforts, and, let me tell you, they are wonderful – beautiful and dramatic, mysterious and wise! I love it! If you want to make up your own mind, here’s the website to follow the work in progress: R | The Opera.