ROBIN DE RAAFF (b.1968): Waiting for Miss Monroe.
Catalogue Number: 12R051
Label: Challenge Classics
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: Librettist Janine Brogt and composer Robin de Raaff present an intriguingly complex portrait of Marilyn Monroe, focused on the tormented inner life of the iconic film star rather than the glamorous public persona. As the opera progresses the action increasingly moves into Monroe's interior world, speculatively reconstructed from the supposed recordings of free-associative ramblings that she is alleged to have made for the benefit of her therapist, which have never been conclusively verified. This Marilyn is an intelligent, fractured personality, increasingly at odds with the persona - and indeed, the behavior - of her public image. The libretto does not shy away from the traumas and salacious details of her life, though it does avoid the conspiracy theories that have dogged her biography since her death. Act 1 shows her becoming unreliable and drug-dependent in the real world, and increasingly isolated within the overpowering bustle of the Hollywood system. Act 2 is the dramatic climax of the work, in which Raaff's powerful, expressionistic orchestral score with well hidden tonal bases becomes a major protagonist in its own right, as Monroe is assaulted by memories of the famous and powerful figures from her past and the crushing insecurities of her self-image. Act 3 is the day of her death, and consists largely of the character's heartbreaking soliloquy, an interior monologue extending beyond the actual death. The Marilyn character is onstage almost throughout, and the part is a virtuoso tour de force, covering a vast range of emotional territory, from vulnerability through introspection, anger and despair. The rich, dramatic orchestral part is the real costar of the production as the harrowing intensity of the (notably levity-free) drama rises; the other vocal parts, though important, notably appearing as strands of counterpoint to the central character. 2 CDs. Libretto included. Laura Aikin (soprano), Dale Duesing (baritone), Helena Rasker (alto), David DQ Lee (countertenor), Netherlands Chamber Orchestra; Steven Sloane.