California Tableaux:
Tableaux I Synopsis

To conclude the Overture, Drake enters the stage crooning a samba of "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin. The lyrics hail the heavens for one having conquered distant lands, after which cultural misappropriation is to only follow suit. Thereafter, Drake begins to deliver an account of his visit with the indigenous coastal people, allegedly the California Miwoks. His monologue-aria is primarily accompanied by a string quartet mimicking consort music of the era, of which he did not go without while circumnavigating the globe. Drake is rapturously engrossed with his own feats, accomplishments and accolades. His intonations seem sensitive, pious, and reverent. His sentiments are echoed by a male choir that chants a prayer he penned himself, one that dreams of “wider seas,” “distant shores,” and witnessing “God’s mastery’, all set in Anglican psalmnody. Yet the motifs in his consort and chorale are eerily bent, twisted, stuttered, and shunted. He is often interrupted by the galloping motifs of “Immigrant Song,” blasting him out of his revelatory anamnesis and reminding him of his duteous account. A strange radio broadcast from the future irregularly and rudely cuts in with fusion jazz as a metallurgist in the 1970s examines a brass plate found on the Marin coast in the 1930s, allegedly left by Drake. At several moments he is (and we are) haunted by Native California song recorded in the early 19th Century, creeping in like a ghostly fog from the past. In this aggregated musical pastiche and lyric montage, we witness Drake pervert the meaning of his fated and foreboding arrival. The megalomaniac finds ‘the temptation strong, like Christ’s, in that arid clime [sic.],” as he is crowned “Hioh”, or king. Before departing, he audaciously infers that the indigenous people have bestowed their land to “HERR MAIESTY” [sic.]. In their juxtaposition and integration, the musical styles eddying around Drake are characters themselves. Contemporary and antiquated musical styles satirically rock us to and fro, ballastless, highlighting the visceral collision of cultures. They also serve as musical life preservers, pulling us back to the havens of the present. Yet, we are run aground, at the foot of stocks. As society sails into the future, Drake’s mentality is to be avoided: judging a foreign peoples’ way, ironically (here) an immigrant’s way of life or ethnicity as ‘other’ only allows our history of brutal scapegoating and mortal subjugation to repeat itself.