The Wax of the Wane

Title: The Wax of the Wane
for Soprano, Actor, and fixed media
Duration: 9 minutes 30 seconds
Year: 2014

The Wax of the Wane is the story of an imaginary episode inspired by the early NASA space programs Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. Given a mission to do exploratory drilling on the lunar surface to locate ice deposits and analyze them in order to see if the Moon could be used as a water depot for more extensive space exploration missions, our Astronaut finds he feels a degree of trepidation— he also feels a sense of duty, curiosity, scientific purpose— but trepidation none the less.

What is it to go to the Moon? What is the Moon itself?
What is the Astronaut? Is he a mediator, an invader, a seeker of knowledge, a knight of faith?

An astronaut seems to me, breath and tin struggling against the infinite. Perhaps engaged in scientific research, but simultaneously motivated by vast poetic forces. The libretto draws on quotations from astronauts describing their experiences of being on the Moon and in space— stark, succinct, awe-struck words.

The libretto also engages the mythological perspective— so inescapably tied to our ideas of celestial expedition that the very names of the early NASA missions reference Greco-Roman mythology. How might a being who calls the fantastic landscape of the Moon regard human astronauts? Might she have admiration for their bravery, disgust at human frailty, perhaps feel attraction— like Selene for Endymion?

Sonically, The Wax of the Wane occupies a territory between vintage radio drama and electronically mediated opera. The score was created using a combination of recordings of electromagnetic data from space, field recordings, instrumental samples, and digital processing.

I wish to express my extreme gratitude to my collaborators without whom this project would not have been possible! Many thanks to Amanda Justice for providing the exquisite visuals, to Zayde Buti for his highly nuanced interpretation, and to Christina Pecce for her incredible depth and talent!