BOOKS OF THE YEAR
December 2, 2005
[Walter] Benjamin is the "subject" of Charles Bernstein's Shadowtime (Green Integer), the libretto for Brian Ferneyhough's opera performed in London, and New York earlier this year. The complex interplay between the opera's words and its music is not always successful, but the libretto should be read as a remarkable poem in its own right — a superb "writing through" of Benjamin's own prose that shows an uncanny ability to grasp his critical ideas and stratagems, even as it turns them inside out. The result is a poignant — but also quite disillusioned and ironic — portrait of Benjamin, a victim, not only of his dark time but also of his own blindness. The new poetics ... is about to take on the aesthetic and ethos of the now finished twentieth century. It's an exhilarating moment to witness.
2005: SHAKEN & STIRRED
Classical Music: Actually, it's alive and well
Los Angeles Times, December 18, 2005
by Mark Swed
Bring on the poets
Intrepid poets are showing a new interest in libretto-writing. Charles Bernstein published "Shadowtime," his arrestingly fanciful contribution to Brian Ferneyhough's "thought opera" about the influential theorist Walter Benjamin. Anne Carson titled her new collection "Decreation" after a luminous feminist libretto she's written as a stand-alone text. Don Davis turned to Los Angeles poet Kate Gale, whose text was translated into Spanish for "Rio de Sangre." Weirdly, the Los Angeles Master Chorale translated her lines back into English for surtitles when it presented the opera-in-progress.