I Have No Stories To Tell You

a chamber opera in four scenes for mezzo, tenor, baritone, female trio (soprano, mezzo and mezzo/contralto), and small period instrument ensemble

Photo Credit: Stephanie Berger

Photo Credit: Stephanie Berger

libretto by Hannah Moscovitch

duration: 35 minutes

Sorrel – mezzo-soprano
Daniel – baritone
Noah – tenor
Memory 1 – soprano
Memory 2 – mezzo-soprano
Memory 3 – contralto / mezzo-soprano

string quartet, theorbo, harpsichord, baroque oboe and audio playback (optional)

I HAVE NO STORIES TO TELL YOU mines the aftereffects of war through the story of a soldier’s return home from an extended assignment on the battlefield. Written as a companion piece to Monteverdi’s Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, the opera explores war as a catalyst for changed identity through the story of Sorrel, a young soldier trying to rediscover a sense of home. As she struggles to communicate with her husband, Daniel, Sorrel is haunted by memories of a fellow soldier named Noah.

I HAVE NO STORIES TO TELL YOU was commissioned and premiered by Gotham Chamber Opera, Neal Goren, artistic director/conductor, in conjunction with Met Museum Presents, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Medieval Sculpture Hall on February 26th, 2014.

Development of the opera was supported by Opera Philadelphia’s Composer in Residence program, funded by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

It was partially composed while in residence at the Copland House, Cortland Manor, New York

Excerpts (video by the amazing Kevork Mourad):

Complete audio recording:


This ingenious project…was the most successful of Gotham’s experiments with performing operas in nontraditional spaces… …Mr. Beecher’s music for the baroque ensemble made artful use of its skills in articulation, layering pizzicatos on tremolos to create an eerie, almost mechanical sound that added to the sense of late-night unease… …the shadowy gallery, with its Virgin and Child statues and other devotional objects, turned the home front into a place where nightmares hide in corners and war is never in the past.

– Heidi Waleson (Wall Street Journal) – March 3, 2014

..cleverly devised…an alluring one-act opera… …Mr. Beecher’s emotive score featured a period ensemble and electronics, a vivid, eerie sound world that meshed evocatively with the action taking place on the rusty-looking 40-foot-long wooden ramp. Nightmarish fragments and skittering riffs unfolded as Ms. Clayton clawed her way up the ramp and slid down… …There were moments of arresting tension in the half-hour work, whose recitatives and dramatic arc flowed succinctly.

– Vivien Schweitzer (The New York Times) – February 27, 2014

I Have No Stories to Tell You was an inspired choice—a modern take on war—and a compelling counterpoint for the Monterverdi… …Beecher’s opera tells of a woman returning from war with PTSD and her inability to communicate with her husband. The unwinding of her backstory is devastating… …the score…was filled with edgy moments…

– Richard Sasanow (Broadway World Review) – February 28, 2014

…a richly written onion-like series of layers… …I Have No Stories To Tell You proved to be a harrowing account of insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder. Musically, the work uses hypnotic, repetitive figures, slithering strings, harpsichord and theorbo to underpin its traumatic libretto.

– Paul Pelkonen, (Superconductor) – March, 2014

One of Beecher’s great gifts is his mastery of understatement, evinced here, among other things, in moments of unaccompanied chorus and the oboe’s winding line to achieve exactly the effect the narrative required and no more. Matched by Hannah Moscovitch’s libretto, Beecher’s music limned the rising tension between Sorrel and Daniel with a sure hand. It’s rare for a libretto and music to work this well together to infuse the dailiness of ordinary language with such power. In a production that was elegantly spare, this excellent ensemble of musicians and singers made palpable the half-submerged, indeterminate landscape of human hearts and minds.

– Susan Scheid (Prufrock’s Dilemma) – March 5, 2014

…I’m eager to hear more operas from Mr. Beecher….

– James Jorden (New York Observer) – March 7, 2014