David Del Tredici (b. 1937)

Final Alice

American composer David Del Tredici’s Final Alice, one of a large number of his works inspired by the world of Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, 1832-1898), was written on commission in honor of the United States Bicentennial with the participation and funding of the National Endowment for the Arts for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. The score is dedicated to Sir Georg Solti and was first performed in Chicago on 7 October 1976. It is scored for huge forces – an amplified soprano/narrator (Barbara Hendricks in the premiere performances), a solo concertante “Folk Group” (mandolin, banjo, accordion and two soprano saxophones) – and very large orchestra. In the composer’s words, “Final Alice unfolds a series of elaborate arias interspersed and separated by dramatic episodes from the last two chapters of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: the Trial in Wonderland (which gradually turns to pandemonium) and Alice’s awakening to ‘dull reality.’ To these I have added an Apotheosis. The work teeters between the worlds of opera and symphonic music, and were I to invent a category I would call Final Alice an ‘Opera, written in concert form’” (notes to recording, Decca 442 9955). Shown here is the beginning of the “Acrostic Song,” the work’s concluding section, in which “those members of the orchestra whose mouths are not otherwise employed” whisper the letters which spell out the name “ALICE PLEASANCE LIDDELL.”

David Del Tredici. Final Alice: ARIA IV (Acrostic song): “A boat ‘neath a sunny sky”. Perf. Barbara Hendricks, soprano; Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Recorded at Medinah Temple, Chicago, January 1980 (Decca Eloquence 442 9955). Record Collection CD 37704

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