The Forest of Dreams
By Nicolas Chuaqui
The mysterious tragedy of the proclaimed “Lost Colony” of Roanoke is a history ripped from the pages of our childhood textbooks. However, composer Nic Chuaqui’s retelling in his opera “Forest of Dreams” weaves a new epilogue for this elusive colony. The libretto follows colonizer John White and the psychological affect of his journeys past, including the loss of his wife, Roanoke, and the ghosts which haunt him. Nic Chuaqui’s inventive and twisting libretto is accompanied by a music of captivation. Capturing the mind of White with glimpses of the early American colonies, it is a perfect capstone to NVO’s season.
“It is the type of legend that provokes our imagination, and thrill of not knowing the truth, but having clues to tease us, entices us,” says Chuaqui of his creative process, “However, as I have gotten older, I have become more interested in the human side of the story. Recent events, most notably the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, were the real impetus for The Forest of Dreams. I found that the sensationalist news coverage of this tragedy obscured the pain of those truly involved in the event, and I wanted to create a work that could bridge the gap between all of us observers of tragedy and those who take part in it.”
Nicolas Chuaqui (b. 1990) has recently had his music performed at the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival (2014), Deer Valley Festival (2014), Dartmouth College Festival of Contemporary American Music (2015), Midwest Composers' Symposium (2015), and Florida Electroacoustic Student Festival (2015). In May 2016, his opera The Forest of Dreams, which tells the story of the “vanished” British colony of Roanoke, will be premiered by New Voices Opera of Bloomington, Indiana.
Nicolas holds a BA from Dartmouth College (2012), and will graduate with an MM from Indiana University in May 2016. He has studied with a diverse group of composers, including Aaron Travers, Don Freund, Jeffrey Hass, John Gibson, Morris Rosenzweig, Kui Dong, Spencer Topel, and Charles Dodge. In 2012 he received the Eugene Roitman '46 Award from Dartmouth College, as well as High Honors for his orchestral composition Icarus. In 2014 he was a finalist for the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award with his first string quartet, Zeugma.
Nicolas is also an accomplished performer in piano, voice, and conducting, and he has shown his commitment to premiering student composers' works. He has recently been a featured soloist in the world premiere of John Gibson's In Flight, as well as minor parts in David Lang's The Little Match Girl Passion. He also served as musical director of his college a cappella group, the Dartmouth Aires, and in 2011, lead the group to a 2nd place finish on Season 3 of NBC's “The Sing-Off.”