Roger Waters' New York presentation of "Ca Ira"
Written by Matt   
Monday, 25 July 2005

Last night (July 25th) Roger Waters and Sony Music, in what could have easily been billed as a "coming-out party" for his long-awaited and much-anticipated opera CA IRA (There Is Hope), premiered 8 tracks from the album to a small, intimate audience at New York City's Florence Gould Hall.

CA IRA - A Classical Opera In Three Acts, is set for release on September 27th. The album, for those of you who may not already know this, is based on the French Revolution and written by Etienne Roda-Gil. The Hall, with a seating capacity of 400 people, had in attendance, Sony executives, members of the press corp, 100 radio station contest winners (Q104.3FM), and 47 hand-picked fans. Brain Damage's US Correspondent, Elliot Tayman, was amongst those fortunate 47 fans...

At 6:30PM EST the house lights were darkened and a short film, commonly called an E.P.K. (Electronic Press Kit), was shown on the backdrop video screen. At first, it was just a black background with red letters emblazoned "Roger Waters CA IRA." This lasted for approximately 5 minutes while some of the album was playing in the background.

Shortly thereafter the actual EPK began with Waters talking about the album and its long road to release. Once the EPK ended, the house lights came back on to reveal the evening's narrator David Silver. He introduced himself, and proceeded to take us through a short synopsis of the forthcoming album.

Roger then came on stage about 7pm. Once Silver had introduced him, he had everyone give Roger more applause for his Live8 appearance with the rest of Floyd...

The audience took to its feet and gave them both a standing ovation. Soon after, they both took comfortable chairs on the stage and entered into a 'discussion' of the album, opera in general, and even managed to toss in a bit of humour centering around today's political turmoil throughout the world. It would seem that these days Waters can easily spend a lot of time discussing world events through his own eyes and feelings on the subject. He's got a lot to say!

The interviewer basically asked Roger some prepared questions to which Roger would answer -- some musical, some political, some about the history of the French Revolution. These questions were intermingled with excerpts of music (and video) from the album.

The acoustics for the music were good, but during the interviews, whilst you could clearly hear the interviewer, Roger was a little difficult for some of the audience to hear (and that included those in the 7th row!)

Throughout the course of the next two hours, the topics were many and varied. First, they discussed why opera isn't very popular. Waters' answer to this was simple - "opera is for the rich" although he noted the irony in this, as opera was originally for the masses. Then, moving on to how Waters became involved with the project, he simply stated, "I was approached to do it and I grabbed the opportunity with both hands!"

Before long we were being introduced to the album's first track - Honest Bird, Simple Bird. Located behind Waters and the narrator was a large video screen where we watched videos of what appeared to be drawings from the CA IRA storyboard. These drawings are very beautiful and intertwine quite well with the music. We watched these to the accompanying music from the album. Each time a track ended, both Waters and the narrator would re-enter the discussion. I myself could not figure out whether or not the audience was more interested in what Waters had to say, or the music itself with its spectacular accompanying backdrop films.

Saying that the concerns of both the French and American Revolutions and their foundations in the then-new concept of human rights had always resonated with him, Roger recalled that he quickly agreed to write a score after first rejecting Etienne Roda-Gil's "rather odd" idea of recycling old Pink Floyd songs. "It's really about revolution in the broadest sense," Waters said. "It's about change, and personal change; we each have within us the potential for republic."

With an eye on the modern world's extremes of wealth and poverty, from America to Africa, Waters said that "not a great deal has changed. But we stand at a crossroads. And I refuse to fall into this cloud of cynicism and accept that there's nothing we can do about it," he said to applause.

He drew parallels to previous work: "I'm sort of reiterating 'The Wall' and its themes of powerlessness in the face of loss." And he also admitted that taking some "liberties with history" when translating the libretto - "Reality was mildly inadequate."

As the evening progressed we heard an additional seven tracks from CA IRA: I Want To Be King, To Freeze In The Dead Of Night, So To The Streets In The Pouring Rain, My Dear Cousin Bourbon Of Spain, To The Windward Isles, The Last Night On Earth, and Liberty. Not really a fan of opera, I did however find this music rather uplifting. It's very bold and, as some might say, it's in your face. The music sounds like it has something to say.

Unfortunately, due to a time overrun, the round of Q & A's from the hand-picked fans never occurred. Both Waters, and the evening's narrator David Silver, thanked the audience for coming. Naturally the audience responded by getting up on their feet and giving them a huge round of applause. The house lights came back on and Waters left the stage.

However, for those lucky fans who lingered in the hall because they had a 'feeling' that Waters may make a reappearance from behind the curtain, were not let down! Waters indeed reappeared on the stage and took a seat at it's edge.

As quickly as he did this the remaining fans in the hall dashed to the stage area and formed a line for autographs. Standing behind Waters the whole time, keeping a close watchful eye, was his manager Mark Fenwick. Thankfully, after I introduced myself to Mr Fenwick, he gave me a few moments of his valuable time. I made use of this precious time by graciously thanking him for his recognition and continued support for the Brain Damage web site.

Once again, I had attended a rather interesting evening with Roger Waters (having previously attended the Bridgehampton Music Festival event). I must admit something to you all. The more events I attend on Waters, the more and more interesting he becomes to me. Although I've been a HUGE fan of Pink Floyd's music since 1974, it never ceases to amaze me just how interesting the members, or ex-members, are. So what's next Roger Waters, The Wall on Broadway? I can't wait!

They did hand out a CD from the evening with nine tracks excerpted from the upcoming album (cover shown to the right, top). One track in particular, My Dear Cousin Bourbon Of Spain, was singled out by Roger, as it uses the same melody as the last track on the Pros & Cons -- 5.11am (The Moment of Clarity). It's kind of subtle, but any Floyd aficionado should recognize it.

Main report by BD's own Elliot Tayman, with additional material from Anthony Patrizio and John Pallone. Our thanks to them, for the reports and pictures, and to Mark Fenwick, Mark Feldman of Sony, and Roger himself.