The May 9, 2009 performance at Carnegie Hall marked the work’s World Premiere.
How do you deal with your world, when madness becomes the behavioral norm?
Based on a short story by Judy Budnitz, Dog Days is a contemporary
opera that investigates the psychology of a working class American family
against a not-sodistant-future wartime scenario. It asks: Is it madness,
delusion, or human and animal instinct that guides us through severely trying
times? Where exactly is the line between animal and human? At what point must we
give in to our animal instincts to merely survive?
Told predominantly from the perspective of 13-year-old Lisa, we watch as the
world slowly falls apart: Her family starves, her mother gives up on life, her
father struggles to fulfill his own myth of being the provider, and her brothers
forfeit everything for the illusion of escape through drug use. We then meet the
Prince, a man in a dog suit begging for food. Is he mad, or is he the only one
who can still see clearly?
Scenes from Dog Days presents the structural foundation of what will
eventually be a 60- to 90-minute opera written in collaboration with librettist
Royce Vavrek. This condensed version provides the narrative skeleton of the
piece, presenting three emotionally pivotal segments from the beginning, middle,
and conclusion of the work.
Many thanks to both Dawn Upshaw and Osvaldo Golijov for this opportunity, and
for their sage advice along the way.
—David T. Little
Fusing classical and popular idioms to dramatic effect, David T. Little’s music
is widely performed—including at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Aspen Music
Festival, the MATA Festival, and the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, as
well as by eighth blackbird, So Percussion, the London Sinfonietta and the
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop. Currently completing a
doctorate degree at Princeton University, Little teaches music through Carnegie
Hall’s Musical Connections program and serves as the first-ever Digital
Composer-in-Residence for the UK-based dilettantemusic.com. An active
percussionist, Little can be heard performing with the International
Contemporary Ensemble and with his ensemble Newspeak.
Bio current as of February 2010