Beauty Intolerable banner

Beauty intolerable
Music by Sheila Silver
Based on the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay
About the Work Creators Video/Audio Gallery Press Performances


“Only a few composers in any generation enliven the art form with their musical language and herald new directions in music. Sheila Silver is such a visionary.” - Wetterauer Zeitung, Germany

Beauty Intolerable, a Songbook based on the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950), is a theatrical portrayal of Millay's poems and her poetic vision. Millay, who lived the life of a “liberated” woman from the time of her instant fame in the early 1900’s through her mature years, was the archetypal feminist before the term feminist was in use. Most of the poems Silver has selected are about love: love and sex – celebrated with wit and irreverence; love and passion – celebrated with yearning; lost love and death – expressed with acceptance or bitterness; and reflections on historical love.

Millay’s poetry, with its perfect form and bountiful sense of rhythm, has become a vehicle for Silver’s musical exploration. To enter Millay’s world, Silver merges hints of jazz (Bill Evans and Ray Andersen), classic American folk from the 60's, and even a bit of rap, with her unique lyrical voice and harmonic language.The settings are for soprano and mezzo-soprano.

Developed in collaboration with the Edna St. Vincent Millay Society.

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silversheilaSHEILA SILVER
Composer Sheila Silver has written in a wide range of mediums: from solo instrumental to large orchestral works; from opera to feature film scores. Her musical language is a unique synthesis of the tonal and atonal worlds, coupled with a rhythmic vitality which is both masterful and compelling. Her opera The Thief of Love was featured in New York City Opera’s Showcasing American Composers, May 2000 and received its fully staged world premiere in March 2001 by the Stony Brook Opera with David Lawton, conductor, Ned Canty, director, and sets by Phillip Baldwin. A film of that production was recently released on DVD to critical acclaim, following its NYC premiere screening at Makor sponsored by American Opera Projects. In 2007 she won the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in Music Composition for Opera to compose her opera, The Wooden Sword (2010). The White Rooster, A Tale of Compassion (2010), commissioned by the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries for the exhibit In the Realm of the Buddha, is a dramatic cantata composed for the vocal ensemble Tapestry, plus six Tibetan singing bowls and frame drums. She has just been awarded a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition and in July will begin a six-month stay in Pune, India, studying Hindustani music in preparation for her new opera, A Thousand Splendid Suns, based on the internationally best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini.

Sheila lives in Columbia County, New York, with her husband filmmaker John Feldman (for whom she has scored several feature and documentary films) and their fourteen-year-old son, Victor Feldman. She is Professor of Music at Stony Brook University.

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June 6, 2013 - BERKSHIRE EAGLE
Composer profile: "Composer Sheila Silver pursues women's voices"

June 6, 2013 - BERKSHIRE EAGLE

June 5, 2013 - REGISTER-STAR (Hudson. NY)

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June 8 & 13, 2013
First Presbyterian Church, Hudson, NY (June 8)
Symphony Space, New York, NY (June 13)
Performances by Lauren Flanigan, soprano
Deanne Meek, mezzo-soprano
Risa Renae Harman, lyric soprano
Kelly Horsted and Christopher Cooley, piano
with special guests, actress Tyne Daly (6/8) and Tandy Cronyn (6/13) reciting the poetry

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