work details

The Little Blue One

a chamber opera in three acts

  • Instrumentation: 6 principal roles and flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano, & percussion
  • Completed: September 2013
  • Duration: 85 minutes
  • Texts: Original libretto by Meghan Guidry
  • Video:
    • The Little Blue One - Act 3, opening scene

      Ryne Cherry, Pietro
      Juventas New Music Ensemble
      Lidiya Yankovskaya, conductor
      Erin Huelskamp, stage director

    • The Little Blue One - Arrangiarsia's aria

      Maggie Finnegan, Arrangiarsia
      Juventas New Music Ensemble
      Lidiya Yankovskaya, conductor
      Erin Huelskamp, stage director

    • The Little Blue One - Azzurina's Act 1 aria

      Kim Lamoureux, Azzurina
      Juventas New Music Ensemble
      Lidiya Yankovskaya, conductor
      Erin Huelskamp, stage director

    • The Little Blue One - Azzurina's Act 2 aria

      Kim Lamoureux, Azzurina
      Juventas New Music Ensemble
      Lidiya Yankovskaya, conductor
      Erin Huelskamp, stage director

    • The Little Blue One - Act 2, Gennaro's aria / duet

      Joshua Collier, Gennaro
      Kim Lamoureux, Azzurina
      Maggie Finnegan, Arrangiarsia
      Juventas New Music Ensemble

    • The Little Blue One - Act 2, Pietro's aria

      Ryne Cherry, Pietro
      Juventas New Music Ensemble
      Lidiya Yankovskaya, conductor
      Erin Huelskamp, stage director

    • The Little Blue One - Act 1, ensemble scene

      Juventas New Music Ensemble
      Lidiya Yankovskaya, conductor
      Erin Huelskamp, stage director

    • The Little Blue One - complete

      Music by Dominick DiOrio
      Libretto by Meghan Guidry
      Juventas New Music Ensemble
      Premiere, April 24, 2014

  • Gallery:
    • Lidiya Yankovskaya & Juventas New Music Ensemble
      Juventas Opera Project: THE LITTLE BLUE ONE
      Photo credit: Scott Bump
      April 2014

    • Maggie Finnegan as Arrangiarsia
      Juventas Opera Project: THE LITTLE BLUE ONE
      Photo credit: Scott Bump
      April 2014

    • Ryne Cherry as Pietro
      Juventas Opera Project: THE LITTLE BLUE ONE
      Photo credit: Scott Bump
      April 2014

    • Full Company, Madrigal / Party Scene
      Juventas Opera Project: THE LITTLE BLUE ONE
      Photo credit: Scott Bump
      April 2014

    • Ryne Cherry, Kim Lamoureux, Sarah Kornfeld & Joshua Collier
      Juventas Opera Project: THE LITTLE BLUE ONE
      Photo credit: Scott Bump
      April 2014

    • Joshua Collier, Maggie Finnegan & Kim Lamoureux
      Juventas Opera Project: THE LITTLE BLUE ONE
      Photo credit: Scott Bump
      April 2014

    • Kim Lamoureux as Azzurina / Catacombs Scene
      Juventas Opera Project: THE LITTLE BLUE ONE
      Photo credit: Scott Bump
      April 2014

    • Stephanie Benkert and Sarah Korngold
      Juventas Opera Project: THE LITTLE BLUE ONE
      Photo credit: Scott Bump
      April 2014

  • Press:
  • Commission:

    Commissioned by Juventas New Music Ensemble - Lidiya Yankovskaya, music director and Erin Huelskamp, founder and resident stage director.

  • Summary:

    Based on an old Italian folk tale, The Little Blue One follows young Azzurina as the world of spirits collides with reality. Every Spring, Juventas New Music Ensemble presents a fully-staged production of a new opera. This season, composer Dominick DiOrio and librettist Meghan Guidry join forces in a reinterpretation of the Italian folktale "Azzurina." Centered on a young albino girl—whose overprotective father dyes her hair dark blue and keeps her confined in the family manor—The Little Blue One is a dark update of a classic tale of childhood, identity, and desire.

  • Original Cast:

    Music Direction by Lidiya Yankovskaya. 
    Stage Direction by Erin Huelskamp.

    Azzurina: Kim Lamoureux (lyric soprano)
    Arrangiarsia: Maggie Finnegan (coloratura soprano)
    Pietro: Ryne Cherry (high baritone)
    Gennaro: Joshua Collier (lyric tenor)
    Schaveria: Sarah Kornfeld (soubrette)
    Gelsumia: Stephanie Benkert (mezzo-soprano)

    Azzurina (cover): Natalie Dewey
    Arrangiarsia (cover): Anna Richardson
    Pietro (cover): Nathan Rodriguez
    Gennaro (cover): Roland Mills
    Schaveria (cover): Ariele Rae Basile
    Gelsumia (cover): Carrie Reid-Knox

    Adam Eccleston (flute)
    Wolcott Humphrey (clarinet)
    Olga Patramanskaya (violin)
    Drew Ricciardi (viola)
    Jonathan Heyward (cello) 
    Brendon Shapiro (piano)
    Danielle Fortner (percussion)

  • Note from the Composer:

    All great works of art are born of a creative impulse, a seed from which all else springs. Sometimes that germinating kernel is a text,sometimes a fragment of a musical idea; other times it might be an extramusical theme of importance to the artist. This opera began with a virtual introduction to poet and librettist Meghan Guidry. After a few weeks of reading her works, I knew that collaborating with her on this project would be a great delight. We began the search for stories to portray, and Meghan in her ever-perceptive and keen imagination, came upon the haunted Italian ghost story of young Azzurina. I immediately fell in love with the possibilities for operatic setting: the mystery and magic of disappearance, the tangled relationships between the characters, and most especially the conflicted nature of our young protagonist, our Little Blue One.

    Meghan's libretto surpassed all expectations and--after a period of revision in June 2013--I set about on three feverish weeks of compositional activity from the end of July to the middle of August (this itself after painstakingly copying every word of the libretto by hand to internalize the text of the characters and to get a better sense of the musical phrasing of their speech).

    I knew that I wanted to write a "number opera" in the tradition of so many great composers before me (Mozart, Rossini, being just a few who composed great sectional operas). I wanted there to be recitative, arias, ensemble numbers, opportunities for instrumental flourishes, leitmotifs associated with different characters and actions. All this and more remains in the music, but above all else I wanted the story to be easily declaimed and the text understood without a problem. In this regard, the musical lines are composed with text intelligibility being always the first and most important concern. Even the arioso moments maintain an element of recitation to them, so that the text stands front and center in front of it all. The story must be understood, and the music must enhance that story instead of upstaging it.

    And yet within that music are webs of associations that bring a greater level of subtext to Azzurina's adventure. The entire opera is a tug-of-war between two intervals: the minor and major thirds. The
    minor third is the quintessential “child” interval, being one of the very first intervals learned by developing infants--think of young children taunting each other on the playground (na na, na NA na!).
    This is contrasted with the major third, which here takes on a role symbolizing the exciting and as-of-yet unknown world of adulthood, often with two thirds stacked on top of one-another to create an
    augmented triad. These major thirds are associated especially with the character of Arrangiarsia and the ball through which she is summoned. The minor thirds (and minor tonality) follow Azzurina throughout the opera, often being used by Pietro to further bring a sense of imprisonment and control to their interactions.

    The other three characters remain somewhat on the periphery in the story, but are still etched with important musical material. Gennaro is a harbinger of hope for the young Azzurina, often appearing with major third melodies over strong and confident chords in the strings. Schaveria and Gelsumia both have laughing, frightened and mocking musical interjections throughout their scenes, playing up their youth and their carefree natures. Schaveria is perhaps a bit more naively assertive in her interjections, Gelsumia more understanding and less likely to invite confrontation than her hot-tempered partner.

    The first two acts--a line of recitatives, arias, and various ensemble scenes--prepare the listener musically for the advent of the solstice celebration in act three. Finally, we have a cathartic musical
    experience, with layers upon layers of musical situations interacting with one another: most obviously the layering of Gennaro's aria on top of the celebration music. This all comes to a head in the discovery of Azzurina's presence at the party, where we hear the sounding of a midnight chime against Azzurina's banishment to her room. The final scenes in the catacombs and Azzurina's bedroom take place simultaneously in the story, if not in the musical interweaving of the plot. (The three o'clock morning chimes in the music give us a clue as to how the events intersect.) An epilogue of familiar but tainted musical refrains brings us to the opera's final mystery, as Azzurina's voice comes to us from some other place. Is it in the walls? Has she been abducted by Arrangiarsia? Is she dead, a spirit haunting Pietro in his madness? Or is she perhaps still alive, prowling the manor with the same jaunty freedom as her red-fairy friend?

    Great art asks questions. It leaves us wondering; it does not provide certain answers or solutions. The creative impulse is a journey, one that leads to an inevitable and brilliant flowering, here made
    possible through numerous collaborations with musical, poetic, and dramatic artists. It is my honor to share the stage with them this evening and to present this tale that draws upon developmental
    psychology, ritual theory, and pathology in its telling. In truth, we have all been Azzurina at some point or another in our lives, feeling the inevitable impulse to grow up while still wanting to remain a child. How innocent we were, and how impossible it is to return to those days once we have left them! 

  • Performances:
    • April 24-26, 2014 (Premiere) 
      Juventas New Music Ensemble 
      Lidiya Yankovskaya, music director; Erin Huelskamp, stage director
      Original Music by Dominick DiOrio; Original Libretto by Meghan Guidry.
      BCA Plaza Theater - Boston, MA
    • September 8, 2014 (selections)
      Juventas New Music Ensemble and Lidiya Yankovskaya
      Selections from The Little Blue One
      #iamopera party
      Club Oberon - Cambridge, MA 
    • September 16, 2016 (Scenes 5, 6, 7, 10)
      Sunshine City Opera
      Erin Huelskamp, artistic director
      Katherine Stenzel, soprano; Thea Lobo, mezzo-soprano
      The Studio @ 620 - 620 1st Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL