Revenge! Revenge!! Revenge!!!


Revenge! Revenge!! Revenge!!! begins with the thinnest of musical wafers and stretches it thinner and thinner, using slowly evolving, repetitive structures. Dissonance builds between the forward motion of predictably linear changes in pitch and rhythm, and the halting way in which these changes occur.

This piece is a kind of sequel to Devilled Swan, which was commissioned by my former composition teacher John Beckwith as part of his 1994 Toronto Arts Award, and premiered by Arraymusic. Both pieces feature materials he advised us undergrads to use with caution: chromatic scales, octaves, etc. Breaking these taboos was so exciting that I needed two pieces to do a proper job.  To be fair, John doesn’t recall issuing any such prohibitions. Perhaps I needed to imagine them in order to summon up the courage to break them. Certainly his teaching made a lasting impression; and despite their teasing façades, both pieces are dedicated to him with respect and affection.

The title quotes the whisky-maddened and thirsty Captain Haddock after his flask is shattered by a stray bullet during a desert skirmish in The Adventure of the Crab with the Golden Claws, one of Hergé’s Tintin comic books.  Revenge! Revenge!! Revenge!!! was premiered by the Composers Ensemble of Princeton in March 1996, and commissioned with the assistance of The Canada Council for the Arts.

James Rolfe CA

Toronto composer James Rolfe has been commissioned and performed by soloists, ensembles, orchestras, choirs, theatres and opera companies in Canada and abroad. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the K. M. Hunter Music Award, and the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music. The Canadian Opera Company, Queen of Puddings Music Theatre Company, Tapestry New Opera, and Toronto Masque Theatre have commissioned and produced his operas. Current projects include a new operatic version of Gogol's The Overcoat with writer Morris Panych, to be premiered in spring 2018 by Tapestry Opera, Canstage, and Vancouver Opera, and a new work for Soundstreams for June 2018.

James Rolfe