Music and Story
What is the story of PROMISE?
The libretto explores the life of the brilliant French sculptor Camille Claudel, focusing on her relationships with her brother (poet Paul Claudel), their parents, and her lover (sculptor Auguste Rodin).
The story is told in two acts, structured around a month’s vacation that Camille and Paul spend together in 1905. Paul has been summoned to France from his diplomatic post in China to try to halt Camille’s destructive downward spiral, both towards her sculptures and towards herself.
From that setting, scenes flash back to their childhood, to Camille’s relationship with Rodin, to the Claudel parents’ reactions, to the critics’ view of Camille as a sculptor and as Rodin’s lover, to her atheism and Paul’s Catholicism, and to Camille’s paranoia about Rodin.
At the end of their vacation Camille realizes the depth of love she has for her brother and promises him that she will not kill herself. She makes one final bust of him that she does not destroy. The cost of this effort leads Camille down a path of apparent mental breakdown. In the new version of the libretto, which has been revised under the guidance of Dramaturgical Editor John Murrell, a final scene has been added to the opera in which we witness Camille’s transformation shortly before her death.
Click on the links below for music samples.
From the 4/22/2012 workshop production in Portland, Oregon. Singers and instrumentalists: David Hattner, Greg Ewer, Justin Kagan, Jerry Simas, Erica Melton, Eleanor Stallcop-Horrox, Doug Webster, Catherine Olson, and Jon Kolbet.
(Due to illness, the role of Rodin was re-recorded and remixed into the original, which will be discernible by the listener. Some of that music is included here in order to give a broader sense of the stylistic variety within the opera.)
From the 4/17/2004 concert version in Portland, Oregon. Singer: John Vergin