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David Conte's "Firebird Motel"


Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall
50 Oak Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
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Free, reservations recommended

Artistic Team

Heather Mathewsdirector
Curt Pajerconductor


David Conte,composer
David Yezzilibrettist
Firebird Motel


SFCM voice students

Excerpt from SF Chronicle review, November 19th, 2003:

It isn't every day that a theater company commissions and opens a new opera. But Thick Description proves that it not only can be done but done rather well. Its premiere of David Conte's "Firebird Motel," which opened Monday at the company's Thick House, is a compelling piece...

Something of a cross between a dramatic tone poem -- or perhaps an operatic meditation -- and a Gian Carlo Menotti-style minor melodrama, "Firebird" is an eventful night among the hopeless down-and-out denizens of a seedy semi-residential motel in the Mojave Desert. In David Yezzi's oddly slow- motion, action-packed libretto, the motel is both a haven of last resort and a death trap for hapless young women.

"Firebird" weaves a hypnotic spell. Conte's sinuously suggestive melodies create a paradoxically lush impression of barren lives in a harsh environment and build gently, almost pensively, but inexorably toward the climax. Plaintive solos alternate with vibrant duets and lustrous trios, occasionally punctuated on Ivan's radio by Conte's lovely Christmas chorales, in an almost seamless creation.

Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle; November 19th, 2003