John Glover: Lucy (live)
Label: NEW FOCUS RECORDINGS
Format: COMPACT DISC
Sokolovic, Sarah; Wilkowske, Andrew; Rourke, Kelley; Ingersoll, Robert; Redshift Ensemble; Pearson, Erik; Zemliauskas, Christopher; Glover, John; Tietjen, Steven Jude
John Glover's opera "Lucy" follows through a fascinating and thought-provoking story of a chimpanzee raised by a human family in Oklahoma in the 1960's as part of research into both human and primate behavior and psychology. Glober's poignant and emotionally sensitive piece explores not just the ups and downs of Lucy's childhood and relationships to her "parents" Maurice and Jane Temerlin, but also forces us to engage with questions of nature vs. nurture, what it means to be human, and the boundaries of the formatio nof human connection. Glover and librettist Kelley Rourke were initially inspired by hearing Lucy's story on the popular public radio program, Radiolab. They draw the material for the songs from Maurice Temerlin's memoir about the experience, Lucy: Growing up Human. Glover's effervescent style is perfect for the recounting of Lucy's everyday activities as they are transformed into profound observations on behavior, as well as capturing Maurice's dual role as father and documentarian of this unique experiment. The prevalence of familiar scenarios between children and parents as they are growing up is striking - in a particular powerful passage, Maurice relates his impulse to punish Lucy by striking her. Lucy, who has learned ASL (American Sign Language) by this time in her development, uses it to communicate with Maurice and eludes her punishment just as a human child might, with a cute appeal to her anry father. Lucy's Vocabulary, age 9.5 defly "sets" Lucy's words, with Wilkowske signing as the violin plays fragile harmonics over a sparse and innocent toy piano and cello accompaniment. By choosing a small ensemble configuration, Glover keeps our focus on the incremental, domestic discoveries of child rearing and avoids distracting bomast. Andrew Wilkowske delivers a heartfelt performance, capturing the nuance of Maurice's relationship to his daughter, and Redshift Ensemble provides colorful, expressive support. The release concludes with an interview with Robert Ingersol, a primatologist who knew Lucy and was featured in the documentary, Project Nim. Lucy is a story that may leave us with more questions than answers, about distinctions between humans and animals, our assumptions about child rearing, and our emotional attachments but Glover and Rourke's sensitive presentation is firm in its assertion that the questions that are raised have profound implications for our understanding of ourselves.