Flash of Recognition is the second installment in a trilogy of chamber operas dealing with the sometimes precarious and unsettling places gay and lesbian individuals find themselves in in society. This installment focuses on a fictitious episode in the life of Mike Disfarmer, a photographer in rural Arkansas.
Disfarmer was the consummate outsider. He maintained a studio in Heber Springs, Arkansas, where he photographed locals for incredibly low fees (a quarter or less). He was something of a local attraction and a total recluse. He also had the unnerving habit of not posing his subjects. In fact, they may have never known when he actually took the picture. This makes for some candid shots, to say the least.
He left little to nothing for would-be biographers, so this opera is pure speculation, pure fiction. In my imagining, he is near the end of his life. Mike is taking a portrait of a family that comes into his studio. He takes a certain fancy to the son since he reminds him of his first love, Pete. He arranges to hire the young man to help around the house. The youth then uses the unsupervised time away from his family to arrange for clandestine meetings with his own young love. Mike spies on the two young men. He contemplates several alternatives, but ultimately decides to leave the two young lovers be, as he wishes he and Pete had been left alone so many years ago.
Have a listen to some excerpts and initial studies for the sound design.
Young Man, baritone
Speaker, speaking role
Another Young Man, silent
Duration: 30 minutes
Little Opera Theatre of New York (excerpts), 2009
Dennis Blackwell, Young Man
David Root, Mike
Edward Ficklin, speaker and electronics
Catherine Miller, piano