Music and libretto by Douglas J. Cuomo
Based on The poems of Wilhelm Müller’s “Die Winterreise”
Darkness. Then, a face in agony. An unnamed, naked man crawling across a cheap, run-down motel room in the desert of the American West. Detritus everywhere. Pizza boxes, empty bottles and beer cans. Out of the window, a desolate landscape, an existential space. The middle of nowhere. He starts to sing, and we realize that we are looking at a man at the end of his rope. Someone who must confront his demons, face up to everything he has done and all he has lost. In this fiercely contemporary reimagining of Wilhelm Müller’s poetry cycle Winterreise—most famously set by Schubert— composer Douglas J. Cuomo transforms Müller’s lovelorn winter wanderer into a demon-haunted Everyman desperate for atonement, while electric guitar, trumpet, keyboards, and electronics—infused with acid jazz and a punk energy—narrate his delirious fever dream.
Duration 75' / no intermission
Commission Savage Winter was commissioned and developed by American Opera Projects and Pittsburgh Opera in part with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works.
Premiere February 17, 2018; Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh, PA; American Opera Projects; Douglas J. Cuomo, conductor; Jonathan Moore, director.
Roles (1) The Protagonist · tenor
Instrumentation Guitar, trumpet, keys, electronic production
Publisher Schott Music / Staged performances of this work require licensing through the publisher.
Press Kit: Schott EAM.
“Savage Winter returns to the poems by Wilhelm Müller and fashions out of them an original work that is sometimes searing, sometimes glib, but never dull. ”
—New York Classical Review
"Subtle electronic manipulations of the group’s sound created even broader avenues of expression in the soundscape, which encompassed slow, tuneful grooves to more ethereal, electronic sounds."
—Pittsburgh Post Gazette
"The relentless images merely heightens our sense of the protagonist’s internal turmoil, and relates it to a world where sensory overload is a reality."
"The music has the variety and searing qualities--and very occasional light-heartedness--in ways that could be compelling and inviting or nerve-wracking and irritating. It made Cuomo seem like a real find."
"A powerful theatrical experience."
— Classical Voice America
“Cuomo’s music is varied and very effective…interesting and enjoyable…a unique blend of rock, jazz and contemporary classical elements, with an unusual instrumental combination and evocative electronics. It can be quite jarring and unsettling or,…gentle and accessible. Given the raw, exhausting emotional quality of Savage Winter, it is very much to the credit of Cuomo and the entire creative team that this dark but important addition to the repertoire did not falter or become oppressive, retaining a spark of vitality despite its ambiguous, foreboding conclusion.”
— Opera News