So I mentioned somewhere along the line — either in Part One or Part Two, I suppose – that I had decided to write an opera in the year 2009.
The opera I would call Eden in Babylon. I only wrote the first Act, as it happened, before I burned out on the idea that Eden in Babylon was supposed to be an opera, and not just a regular old musical.
The first Eden in Babylon was quite different. It had nothing to do with homelessness. Instead of entering into homelessness after the first two scenes, the main character entered into a fantasy world of the imagination. Really, only the title remains, as the show has changed its context so much.
In that realm of imagination lived a woman named Helzabel, who objected to all things beautiful. She held Artists in particular disdain, since they often created the very beauty to which she objected. The song she sang, Cloaks of Art, played with the biblical concept called “cloaks of maliciousness.” (1 Peter 2:16 KJV.)
But now that Eden in Babylon had become a musical about homelessness, that fantastical realm where Helzabel dwelt was replaced by the realm of the streets. And Helzabel became Molly Mortalis — suspicious not so much of Artists, but of people who had become homeless. A similar character of a similar sentiment — in a wildly different world.
This called for wildly different lyrics. And a major tune-up on the tune. So without too much hemming or hawing. I came up with Midnight Screams.
I wonder how many people who read this will actually listen to Cloaks of Art and tell me how much, or how little, it resembles Midnight Screams?” As for “Child of No Emotion,” the variant in Part One, I’m afraid you will never hear it. That libretto, I fear, is gone.
But the music lives on. These three abide — Book, Music, and Lyrics. But the greatest of these is Music.
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