As I stopped to take a breather between larger works, I found that it's been a long time since I wrote any art song. From my earliest attempts at composing to where I am now, art song has always been central. So, in an effort to keep the creative fires burning—or, at least, smoldering—I decided to experiment a little.
Most of my operas lend themselves to the being handed off to a company to perform, i.e. the traditional model of opera production where the composer and librettist consult in the final stages but are rarely active producers or performers. However, one is not. This one falls into the "hands-off" category when it comes to opera companies. It is, at the moment, my most oft performed work and I have had a huge hand in every single one of those performances. My personal attachment to the work is like no other in my repertoire.
When embarking on something large, we're often given that sage, if cliche, advice. Having recently laid down on paper, finally, the first few lines a new libretto destined to be a grand opera, I find that I need to remind myself of this. Indeed, large endeavors always require a large perspective.
What kind of stage directions should go into a libretto? I've always tended toward a "less-is-more" approach, leaving wide latitude for directors and performers. Still, you have to give them something to hang their hats on, as it were, while still letting them make the work their own.