eL/Aficionado (2021)

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Robert Ashley's eL/Aficionado is a group of scenes from the life of an "agent". The scenes are a kind of "debriefing" to a jury of Interrogators, in which the Interrogators (chorus) challenge the Agent (soloist) in various forms of musical dialogue. The mood of the opera owes much to our fascination with espionage and with the character of those people who lead double lives. The opera was performed many times between 1987 and 1993, and Lovely Music released a recording of the opera in 1994 (LCD 1004CD). This new studio recording features the cast of the 2021 production (October 21-23 at Roulette, Brooklyn), with mezzo soprano, Kayleigh Butcher, taking over the role formerly inhabited by baritone Thomas Buckner. Recorded at Robert Ashley's studio in July 2021. Orchestration by Robert Ashley and Tom Hamilton. Recorded and mixed by Tom Hamilton. Produced by Tom Hamilton and Mimi Johnson. Personnel/Credits: Music and Libretto by Robert Ashley; Kayleigh Butcher - The Agent; Brian McCorkle - Interrogator No. 1; Bonnie Lander - Interrogator No. 2; Paul Pinto - Interrogator No. 3.

"As labyrinthine as a Robbe-Grillet novel, as pithy as a Pinter play, eL/Aficionado comprises a series of debriefing sessions between a secret agent and his three interrogators. For 70 minutes the work sustains an atmosphere of uneasy calm brilliantly: misty, microtonal electronics provide a sometimes barely audible backdrop to the vocal parts. But don't confuse this with ambient; Ashley's music requires your full attention to appreciate the subtle timbres of his unique sound world... This is another riveting work by one of the world's leading composers of experimental opera." --Chris Blackford, The Wire (1995)

"Enigmatic, cryptic, wonderfully mysterious, eL/ Aficionado has a story line and narrative structure, as do Ashley's previous operas. Though the characters hail from a parallel universe, familiar and alien. The music is austere, simple, even minimalistic, yet utterly compelling. The New York Times was dead-on in proclaiming Ashley 'opera's James Joyce.'" --Dean Suzuki, Wired, 1995