Anna Moody 5
Anna Moody - The Librettist’s Process
#5 The editing process
The editing process for both the libretto and the music requires ongoing communication between Howard and I as we create the piece.
For the libretto, I will only show Howard what I’ve written when I have completed drafts of a whole scene or more. I have to resist the temptation to send anything as soon as I think I’ve finished, but instead to step back from it for a day or two and then re-read it and do my own editing first. I always find that looking back with fresh eyes reveals all kinds of loose ends that I might have missed in the heightened moment of creativity.
Howard will then flag up any superfluous words in the text that could disrupt a musical line and need cutting. He also has a sharp eye for words that won’t be clear enough when translated into another language or which are not accessible enough for people singing in their second or third language.
This is in fact another big challenge as a writer of a project such as Solar - that my use of the English language must be clear and direct enough to be readily translatable into both French and Flemish surtitles. The writing style that is required for this project is a generous one and a practical one. I cannot just write whatever I feel like or get carried away with turns of phrase! I’m always trying to find a middle ground between my own writing style and the practicalities of the commission.
When Howard plays me a scene that he’s set to music, my job is to spot places where the music has expanded a dramatic moment too much or let it pass by too quickly. The pace of the music and the time it takes to sing each section of the script completely defines the dramatic momentum of the action. Even just cutting a couple of bars, speeding up a transition between one section and another, or reducing the number of times that a sung phrase is repeated, can make all the difference to the drama.
This flow of communication as each scene takes shape is what enables the text and music to come together smoothly and become one unified piece. The great thing about working with Howard is that we just call each other up at any point or spontaneously sit down to listen to a scene and discuss it in detail. There is no need to organise official meetings or send endless emails. And it is this that has made it possible to write Solar so quickly.