These arias were composed in the spring months of 1990,
especially for baritone Stephen Kalm, who requested a new work which
could be presented on voice recitals. Together, the two texts, taken
from Edmond Rostand’s ‘Heroic Comedy’ of 1898, Cyrano de Bergerac,
adapted here and translated from the original French by Sarah White,
make a short scene which shows the depth of Cyrano, a poet with a
grotesquely large nose, and a wit, ego and heart to match it.
The second aria, A Modicum of Wit, is a catalog aria in which Cyrano lists a variety of improvements on his detractor’s blunt comment that his nose is “rather large.” This aria calls for a virtuosic mercuriality of mood and lightning-fast impersonations of various characterizations. Cyrano is at his wittiest and most flippantly sarcastic here. The first aria, I Have No Illusions, shows the underlying pathos of Cyrano’s plight. He betrays his longing for a normal life and the comfort of a lover’s acceptance while confiding to a friend.
Selected Performances of Two Concert Arias
Premiere: October 11, 1990, Sound Horizons Series, Franklin and Marshall College,
November 8, 1990, Stephen Kalm, baritone, Greenwich House, NYC
November 21, 1990, Stephen Kalm, baritone, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia