for Ally Smither and Ben Roidl-Ward
The text for Tamora Monologues is taken from Shakespeare’s gory revenge play Titus Andronicus. The most interesting character of the play is Tamora, Queen of the Goths, whose monologues are full of grotesque and visceral imagery. Clearly Shakespeare put considerable thought into crafting her rhetoric, which she uses to manipulate other characters in her pursuit of vengeance. I imagine that this cunning woman in a position of power, who uses her own sexuality to get the best of powerful men, was scandalous for 17th century audiences. Each movement of my piece corresponds to a scene featuring a monologue by Tamora.
In the first movement, Tamora pleads for Titus not to execute her first-born son. He ignores her plea, and from here the narrative is set in motion; Tamora spends the rest of the play plotting her revenge on Titus. The second movement corresponds to a scene in a forest, in which Tamora seduces Aaron for leverage, and later convinces her sons to avenge threats against her. In the third movement, Tamora has wrongly become convinced that Titus has gone mad, and attempts to deceive him in his feeble state. The first half of the movement is devoted to her outlining her plan, and the second half involves her meeting Titus, pretending to be a personification of friendly Revenge, sent to help Titus overcome his foes. In a needlessly gruesome final scene of the play, Tamora, along with a handful of other characters, are killed. The fourth and final movement takes place after Tamora has died, and the text is from Lucius’s final words about Tamora, proclaiming her unworthy of a funeral for the acts she has committed. My music for this movement serves as the funeral Lucius refused her.