About the Play
The Man Outside is an expressionistic German drama that recounts the the tale of a soldier, Beckmann, and his failed attempts to reintegrate himself into society at the end of World War II. Borchert himself was a soldier who died young in 1947 as a result of illnesses he acquired during his imprisonment by the Nazi party for the content of letters he had written home while fighting in the war.
In the play, we see a distraught Beckmann jump into the Elbe (a river). Death mocks him and God mourns his people who no longer believe in him (harkening to the opening of the morality play Everyman). The Elbe then "shits" Beckmann back out, sending him on his way to "give it another go now." As Beckmann tours society in an attempt to find a place for himself, Beckmann is met with disappointment after disappointment. His wife waited three years for him and finally took another lover. He tries to start a relationship with a young girl, until her soldier husband (assumed dead) returns to find them there. He attempts to give his colonel back the responsibility for the dead that haunt him, but fails. A cabaret director will not employ him until he makes a name for himself, like "Wagner" or "Shirley Temple." He even tries to go home, but his parents now reside in a cemetery and the new resident is an unfeeling monster. A character called The Other continually pulls Beckmann back from the brink of another suicide, urging him not to give up and continue to try different means of reuniting with German society until, unlike Everyman, the only truth Beckmann gains at the end is that there is no place for him anymore. He remains always outside the doors of German society.
About the Opera
Originally written in German prose, the play has been adapted and re-translated into English verse and scored as a post-modern opera. All of the roles are sung, save Beckmann who speaks the entire play. The nine sung roles are divided among three singers; a soprano, tenor, and bass. The piece is scored for orchestral forces with an expanded percussion section.
Beckmann, one of the many: A soldier who returns, broken, to Germany, he is the heart of the play.
his Wife, who forgot him: seen, but not heard in the play.
her Boy Friend, who loves her: again, this character is only seen.
a Girl, whose husband returns on one leg: sung by the Soprano.
her Husband, who dreamed of her a thousand nights: sung by the Tenor.
a Colonel, who is very jovial: sung by the Bass.
a Cabaret Director, who wants to be brave but is a coward: sung by the Tenor.
Frau Kramer, who is only Frau Kramer; that's what is so terrifying: sung by the Soprano.
the Old Man, in whom no one believes any more: sung by the Tenor.
the Undertaker: sung by the Bass.
the Other, who everyone knows: sung as a chorus by the Soprano, Tenor, and Bass.
the Elbe: sung by the Soprano.
The workshop CD for the 2004 Pittsburgh production won the Opera album category in the 2004 Just Plain Folks Music Awards. Entered amongst the 10,000 CDs that hailed from over 85 different countries, the composer, performers and recording production staff was honored to be recognized by the Just Plain Folks organization.
About The Composer
Brendon Cassidy began writing music at a very young age. His mother Carolyn is an active flautist, pianist and organist performing and teaching around Indiana. His father Richard (who translated and adapted the opera's libretto) was a percussionist, calligrapher, poetry scholar, and banker. With great support and encouragement, Cassidy went from piano student to rock musician to classicaly trained composer and film composer over the years. His compositional style currently exists in a similar post-minimal sound world to that of John Adams and Louis Andriessen.
The Man Outside is Cassidy's first full-length operatic work and is dedicated to the memory of his father and collaborator, Richard Cassidy (1943-2003), whose life is a constant inspiration.
Other noteworthy works created by Cassidy include the score to the feature film Chapter Perfect starring Lucky Vanous and Wilfred Brimley and the score for the independent short The Box. Cassidy has also composed music for a dozens of television commercials and image campaigns. His work for the theater includes music for productions of Thesmo Phair, At the Hawk's Well, The Drummer, The Frogs, Visions of Simone Machard, A Wind from Noplace Rises, and others. Cassidy has also composed various concert music for forces ranging from solo piano to chamber orchestra and chorus. More details are available on his website at http://bpcmusic.com.
Cassidy received his bachelors in music at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana and his MFA in music composition and new technology from California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. His teachers have included Morton Subotnick, Stephen "Lucky" Mosko, James Ure, Mark Trayle, Mark Nelson, Nina Gilbert, and Tom Erbe.