BWW Interview: Jonathan Moore On Partnering With A Police-Man For THE INVENTION OF MOREL
The latest artful collaboration of Stewart Copeland and Jonathan Moore, the co-world premiere of THE INVENTION OF MOREL, will be presented by the Long Beach Opera at the Beverly O'Neill Theater for three performances beginning March 17, 2018. Based on Adolfo Bioy Casares' 1940 novel La invención de Morel, THE INVENTION OF MOREL is a co-commission by Long Beach Opera and Chicago Opera Theater.
Actor/director/playwright Jonathan Moore took a few moments of his busy schedule to provide us with a few details on teaming up with the co-founder of The Police.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Jonathan!
You and Stewart Copeland must have crossed paths before beginning this collaboration THE INVENTION OF MOREL. Did you originally meet socially or creatively?
We met at a weekend conference organized by English National Opera in 1989.
What brought you and Stewart together to co-write and direct this show?
We had collaborated on two previous operas and we wanted to continue. Stewart's daughter suggested the novel, and Stewart brought it to me as a possible source text.
Could you describe your working process with Stewart for this show? (Does he write the music first before your write your lyrics?)
Stewart and I write the text initially and, yes, it is normally text first. Then, it is set to music. Later on in the process, I sometimes have to write a small amount of text to existing music, which is more complex, I find.
How hands off is Stewart once you take the directing reins?
He generally lets me get on with it. He has some suggestions, of course, which I always take on board.
Any major or minor tweaks between your co-world premiere February of last year at the Chicago Opera Theatre and your present production at The Beverly O'Neill Theater in Long Beach?
A few minor ones, but mostly, it's the same piece. We are discovering new performative ways of interpreting the piece in rehearsal though, as it's important that the new performers, as well as the cast from the original performances, feel they can bring their own ideas, not just recreate what went before all the time.
You have an intensive resume in acting, writing and directing. Which method/outlet of your artistry do you find is your favorite form of expression?
I like them all, but there's something very satisfying about directing and writing as one has an overview of the entire creative process.
Are you just as satisfied with watching your writing or direction from off-stage, as you would be, being in the spotlight or in front of the cameras yourself?
Oh, yes, very much so! I love watching and enabling good acting and singing. I find it is a different part of my soul, which is required.
Do you have a different approach to/different emphasis in directing an opera as opposed to directing a non-opera theatre piece? I think of opera as theatre with grander gestures and themes. How wrong am I?
I know what you mean. It's not so much 'grander gestures,' as the time it takes to impart information about the narrative or character. When words are set to music, the ideas usually take a longer time for this information to be imparted. So the singer has to sustain the thought or the emotion for the amount of time the music dictates. But the truth is the truth. And acting is about the truth, whatever the medium. I think that I direct actors in the same way as singers, but with the latter, I just need to open up the dimension of that different time code that comes with the music and its demands. I try to be sensitive to the physical demands of the singers and make their movements possible with the demands of what they are singing at any given time. But, essentially opera is theater, just expressed differently.
You have been involved with all genres of music from punk to opera. Do you have a favorite type of music?
I have a very wide taste in different music that encompasses classical, avant-garde, contemporary, dub reggae, rock music, funk, jazz, etc., etc.
What music do you listen to in your leisure time? Different from whatever you're working on at the time? Or in the same vein?
Pretty much different to what I'm working on. Or silence...
Can you relax to punk music? Party to opera?
Yes to both!
What your favorite Police song, by the way? I'm partial to "Roxanne," among others.
Ha, Ha! Yes, agree! And "Bed's Too Big Without You."
When you direct one of your plays (i.e., GREEK) for television, do you have to tone down, bring in your actors/ performances for the close-ups of the small screen? Or do you pull back the cameras?
Yes, you have to modulate and redirect the performers for the New Medium.
Can you share what your next directing project will be?
An opera, a version of my play about the Jesuits in Mexico, and a revival of ASHES AND SNOW/SAVAGE WINTER, which I directed at Pittsburgh Opera last month (world premiere).
Your next writing project?
My agent is choosing from various offers.
Thank you again, Jonathan! I look forward to experiencing your musical artistry at The Beverly O'Neill.
For THE INVENTION OF MOREL ticket availability for one of the three performances on March 17, 24 & 25; log onto www.longbeachopera.org