Sisters of the Covid Moon for Bassoon/Soprano and Piano

WORLD PREMIERE during the International Double Reed Society 2nd Virtual Symposium

July 27, 2021 – 11 am Pacific/2pm Eastern

 

Commissioned by Bassoonist/Soprano Gina Cuffari
Music by Jenni Brandon
Libretto by Karla Linn Merrifield

This work explores the lives of women, teens, seniors, essential workers, and mothers during the recent pandemic. We have all been touched by the virus in some form or another-it has affected our health, our careers, the ability to see our loved ones, and much more.  This genre-crossing work explores the possibilities of storytelling through the combination of the voice and the bassoon acting as the voices of these women.  At times the work is serious and reflective, looking on with disbelief of the incredible circumstances in which we find ourselves. And at times the work is funny and hopeful, giving the voices a chance to explore all sides of human emotion as we have experienced them throughout this pandemic.

A moving work that blurs the line between opera and musical theater, this 25-minute dramatic work  is premiered with Gina as Soprano/Bassoon and Tom Cuffari on piano.  Other versions will be made available in the near future, including a version for separate Bassoon and Soprano with piano,  as well as a chamber orchestra version.  

Watch the interview with Gina and Karl on Jenni’s vlog “Work in Progress” as they discuss collaboration, and the creation of this new work: 

Read the libretto by Karla Linn Merrifield

Sisters of the Covid Moon
Poetry by Karla Linn Merrifield

 

You and me, sister;
you and me, sister, truly,
we are all sisters of the Covid Moon.

We are the nurses and doctors, teachers, and essential workers:
Sherry, Mary, Barb, Sarah, Zia, Melissa, Shonte, Alana, Yalkim—

            I’m terrified.
            Cases are just skyrocketing.
            Safety is not that hard.

            I’ve never been this exhausted.
            I feel like I’m in ‘The Hunger Games.
            Our students are getting the virus, and they’re spreading it.

            Hair styling? It’s a Covid cesspool.
            If I worked less, I wouldn’t have money for rent, lights, food.
            No income, it’s hard; it’s really hard if you have no savings.

You and me, sister;
you and me, sister, truly,
we are all sisters of the Covid Moon.

We are the pregnant mothers, single moms, and working mothers:
Monica, Marie, Elvisa, Lizette, Michelle, Jen, Gloria, Andrea, Christy—

            Stress is pervasive.
            It’s year of overwhelming fear.
            I get through by praying.

            There’s no drive-through swab for depression.
            Our homes used to be sanctuaries.
              I’m trying to be intentional about joy.

           I have to be teacher, mom and friend.
            It’s a Mobius strip of misery.
            We have learned to settle into uncertainty.

You and me, sister;
you and me, sister, truly,
we are all sisters of the Covid Moon.

We are the single seniors, widows, and married seniors:
Karla, Colleen, Enid, Martha, Jacquie, Laury, M.J., Diane, Barbara—

            What ever happened to sex? My libido rages at me.
            I have sat so long my butt hurts.
            I’ve become voiceless.

           My relationship with my spouse has grown more intimate—I’m a lucky one.
            Every day we saw something beautiful, blessing after blessing.
             Such lucky ones.

          My best friend died of the virus. I miss him everyday. He is irreplaceable.
           Hospice, aides, lockdown, death—I do not accept the word widow.
            In the end, I was relieved that he passed when he did.
            The foghorn releases a deep-throated bell, vibrating along the hollow
                        highways of my bones.

You and me, sister;
you and me, sister, truly,
we are all sisters of the Covid Moon.

We are the little girls, teenagers, and co-eds:
Maya, Sarah, Sofia, Alice, Paige, Fatima, Aya, Adeline, Madilyn,

            Uh-oh! People!
            I’m nervous about the ‘bad’ germ.
            I go to the lake to watch a blue heron each week in peace.

           I feel like the world is caving in.
            I’m lonely; I miss high school.
            These are supposed to be the best years of our lives.

            I worried I exposed my friends and family.
            It’s just really weird.
            I feel smothered by anxiety.

You and me, sister;
you and me, sister, truly,
we are all sisters of the Covid Moon.

We are the hopeful women: (speak 9 names of women who are important in your life.)
            It’s a shot of hope, the beginning of the end.
            I see that light ahead.
            Healing is coming.

You and me, sister;
you and me, sister, truly,
we are all sisters of the Covid Moon.