As to the libretto, we have, as mentioned, taken a great many liberties with Ed Poe’s prose. The very detailed anthropological and other scientific terminology would be difficult enough, even for a more educated listener, let alone your librettist, who took three foreign languages in high school to get out of taking any more than the bare minimum science requirement.
In order to fill the void created by the absence of hard science, we have inserted massive doses of tomfoolery, which is fitting, since the librettist’s name is Tom. In addition to our many musical japes and jokes, we have expanded upon the character (an unnamed narrator) who starts and ends the story.
First of all, we have given him a name: Throckmorton FitzSpitzenkoff or Fitz, for short. Then we gave him a witty and sharp-tongued wife, Rosalita vonDoyberger FitzSpitzenkoff, henceforth referred to simply by her first name. Like her husband, she will be in the first and last scenes of the opera.
One way in which we did stay faithful to Poe’s story was that we set it in Baltimore, in the middle of the 19th Century. Where we have fooled around with the time line, we did so deliberately and not out of ignorance.
One final note to any potential directors: the words for Fitz and Rosalita are often tricky and unexpected. The same goes for the pseudo-scientists who will join Fitz later in the production. For that reason, you may want to emphasize strong phrasing and diction over bel canto. Think of General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance.