Post-Madonna Prima Donna (2001) is a one-act opera, for which I wrote both the music and the libretto. The
subject of the opera is language. This is reflected in the word play of the title, the content of the libretto, the conversational
vernacular with which those ideas are discussed in the recitatives, and the "language" of tonality as it develops throughout
One singer performs both the title role and an interlocutor in dialogue with that character. Like Thespis-who is
credited with inventing the art of acting in ancient Greece by performing multiple characters that he distinguished by
costume and mask changes-the "aural mask" of a vocoder defines the soprano's alternate character. And like Greek
tragedy the chorus is an additional abstract character.
When I composed this work I was more interested in opera as a form than as drama or spectacle. Consequently,
I used the classical operatic forms of overture, recitative, aria and finale. However, I organized those units into a structure
of nested palindromes embedded within an overarching palindrome in order to critically reexamine tradition through
rigorous methodology. For example, the accompaniment of recitative 2 reiterates the accompaniment of recitative 1 backwards,
while within each recitative every phrase is a palindromic rhythm.
Odi et Amo (2006) is a cantata inspired by the love poems of the ancient Roman poet Catullus. These texts were
the first autobiographic cycle of poems written about a love affair in the Western world. They begin with the blossoming
of a romance with a woman who Catullus referred to only as "Lesbia" (a courtesan from Lesbos, possibly an allusion to
Sappho). But soon their relationship sours and the poems delve into the many conflicting emotions surrounding their
In the arias, I set his poems in their original Latin and for the recitatives I translated the same poems into English.
My translations are gender neutral because I wanted the poems to be universal. Plus, with so many other fine translations
of Catullus already available (most notably Louis Zukofsky's phonetic translations), I wanted to do something unique.
I created a new type of recitative texture for this work: each recitative is harmonically static, with improvised
ornamentation of pointillist notes over an unchanging ostinato. From the first to the last recitative there is a linear development
from the primal sound of a drone toward greater harmonic sophistication. This is in contrast to the arias that are
through-notated with teleological harmonic progressions. Also, to further accentuate the binary form of the work, the arias
and recitatives alternate in tempos that are proportioned in a ratio of 2:3 to create a polyrhythmic relationship between the
Plastic Flowers (2001/2004) is a song cycle that I composed for my ensemble "Jason Cady & The Artificials." In
both the music and the lyrics I explored themes of absence, negation, and the trajectory from art to artifice to artificiality.
By "artificiality" I refer not only to synthetic timbres and a radical take on digital editing, but also to formalist approaches
toward composition and a preference for beauty over truth.
The form of the entire cycle is palindromic, though it is more casual than Post-Madonna Prima Donna. The tonal
architecture is loosely: I, IV, V, IV, I. The axis of the cycle is the most complex of the songs.
PMPD and OEA were supported by a grant from the American Music Center