Nostalgia Kills You (2013)
When my 20th high school reunion was approaching I thought about what a nightmare high school was. But I also reminisced about my old friends and thought about how social media is a kind of perpetual high school reunion.
This inspired me to write a story about David and his friend Zelda—a goth who broke his heart in high school. Years later he hears that she had died, but then he gets an email from her. They meet up at a bar for a drink. She is a zombie.
I made the music express some of the themes in the story. To represent nostalgia, I re-harmonized some snippets from a couple old pop songs. I characterized the protagonist as stagnant with a drone of a perfect fifth. I combined the Death Metal consonance of the drone with harmonies dissonant to those two notes to evoke horror. I juxtaposed the two characters by writing two versions of the same aria with contrasting words.
A few months after I finished composing Nostalgia Kills You I went to my reunion. It was a lot like high school: a few nice people, and a bunch of creeps dancing to Vanilla Ice.
Nostalgia Kills You is a one-act opera. It premiered at Abrons Art Center, New York City, November 2, 2013 in a production directed by Louisa Proske.
David Bloom, conductor
Tomas Cruz, tenor
Erin Flannery, soprano
Emily Manzo, amplified harpsichord
Shawn Lovato, bass guitar
Brian Chase, drums
Jason Cady, modular synth
recorded by Jeff Cook & Jason Cady
mixed by Jeff Cook