LET US LIVE, MY CLODIA, AND LET US LOVE (FROM I HATE AND I LOVE)
Commissioned by and dedicated to The Dale Warland Singers on the occasion of their Tenth Anniversary, I Hate and I Love is based on the poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus, a Roman poet who was a contemporary of Julius Caesar and lived ca. 84-54 B.C.
In selecting texts for musical settings, I have been drawn more to prose than to poetry, especially biographical prose such as journals, diaries, and letters, because I find that private statements on the human condition and human passions in the straightforward, simpler language of personal documents are more amenable to musical treatment. The texts I have chosen from Catullus are, of course, poetic and public, but I was attracted to them precisely because they are so autobiographical and particular.
The love for Clodia – a married woman 10 years his senior, beautiful, cultured, elegant, and incurably dissolute – is one of the central themes in the poetry of Catullus. Many of his poems record the tempestuous affair: from infatuation to jealously; blissful contentment to betrayal; reconciliation to resignation – and all of these experienced not just once, but repeatedly. The circular nature of this chain of emotions prompted me to cast the music as a cycle which stops (rather than concludes) at the point where it started and might very well begin all over again.
“The decision to use only percussion for the accompaniment was made primarily to avoid any specific historical connotations; like the human voice, percussion instruments can be both ancient and modern, a quality of timelessness they share with Catullus’ poetry which, two thousand years before Freud, was examining the thin line that separates love from hate and the perplexing ambiguities of those passions. – Dominick Argento