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Mounting Picasso

1993 • 80 minutes • Mezzo-soprano, flute, viola, bass clarinet, cello, piano. (Texts by Gertrude Stein)



Mounting Picasso' is a four part 80 minute 'instrumental theatre' piece which was premiered by the Blue Rider ensemble in Waterloo and Toronto in 1993.

The work is about the relationship between art, artist and society, using the life and work of Pablo Picasso as the basis for this examination. The central image of the piece is that of Picasso's eyes and the central theme that of voyeurism, examining the 'distanced intimacy' which is both the basis of artistic experience and, in a very different way, mass media such as television.

The text is taken from the two 'word portraits' done by Gertrude Stein on Picasso. The primary text, Stein's 'If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso' (1923) is an informed criticism of Picasso in a style of writing which reconstructs the English language as much of Picasso's work (especially the cubist works) reconstructed the painted canvas. My treatment of the text is quite unusual, the text sometimes sung, sometimes spoken and sometimes projected on the video monitor. The text presented in an order quite different from Stein's presentation. I took my cue for this treatment from Stein herself, who wrote libretto in which Scene III sometimes followed Scene IV (as found in her 'opera' Four Saints in Three Acts, a work which actually has four acts).

The work was produced in both Waterloo and Toronto by the Blue Rider Ensemble under the direction of David McMurray-Smith.

Cast for Mounting Picasso: David MacMurray-Smith; Tony De Mare; Anne-Marie Donovan; Peter Hatch; LIselyn Adams; Robert Bardston; Paul Bendzsa; Sophie Renshaw

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