Journeys with Così: An Overture and Five Chapters


In a previous life, I worked for several years in the mental health field. Shortly after I transitioned to the opera business (yes, as I’m often told, not a change of career, just a change of venue…), Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences became all the rage. I bought all of his books and immersed myself in what seemed to be a concept that was so fundamentally sound and obvious that it seemed impossible that no one had explored it before. Of course, it didn’t spring from nowhere – there were plenty of antecedents, and there have been countless new and similar theories since. But to me, it was rocket science. Exciting and world-changing.

Had the internet existed at the time, I mightn’t have tunneled so deeply inside this theory. But I was alone with my books, and I spent several years applying the multiple intelligences approach to my musical life. It completely changed the way I approached learning and performing music, and it fundamentally altered the way I coached and taught. For a time I even had pipe dreams about writing a book on the application of multiple intelligences in the performing arts, but I was sort of interrupted by child-bearing and child-rearing. :)

So what does this have to do with Così?

I’m approaching my 5th Così. And it feels (in a good way) like completely new territory. Familiar, yes, but not the least bit predictable. (Unlike my eight Flutes, which always seem like Groundhog Day. But that’s another story.) As I stewed on this a few weeks ago, it occurred to me that each one of my Così experiences was approached in a very different way. There was a distinctly different agenda for each one, and yes, they align in a curious way with Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (visual, aural, kinesthetic, linguistic, mathematical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal).

So, here’s the table of contents:

Chapter 1 – I’m Playing as Fast as I Can
1989, The Washington Opera (kinesthetic, mathematical)

Chapter 2 – Guns? Really?
1991, Wolf Trap Opera (intrapersonal, interpersonal)

Chapter 3 – Recitative Whiplash
1995, Wolf Trap Opera (aural)

Chapter 4 – Imposter Syndrome
1998, Wolf Trap Opera (visual)

Chapter 5 – Let Me Tell You a Story
2009, Wolf Trap Opera (linguistic)

This tale, serialized and posted in installments. See you next week in 1989.

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