The Spaces WE Breathe - Consortium for Soprano Voice

Hi All! Welcome to my consortium for soprano called “The Spaces We Breathe,” referring to the first of the ten Duino Elegies written by metaphysical poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926). The project would be written theatrically for solo soprano, with extended technique options. Each of the elegies is quite lengthy (a total of 859 lines for all ten), so this consortium will only be for the First Elegy. Over the course of the next several years, I hope to create further consortia for the other nine elegies for other voice types, treating the entire collection as one extensive creative ritual.  

I also chose this text because I wanted something that was not aimed at a specific gender, and knowing several male and trans-male soprani, I wanted to open the opportunity to all genders and gender-nonconforming folx. The ability to give equal opportunity throughout the gender spectrum is incredibly important to me as a nonbinary person.

This collection has spoken much to me during this strenuous time of injustice and inequality. Coming to terms with human existence can be a painful experience, and by reading these elegies, I decided that I want to help bring hope through the turmoil that presents itself through the everyday. My own spirituality has grown tremendously during these times through my creative process, and I now hope to have many of you join me for this stretch of that journey. 

After their publication in 1923 and Rilke's death in 1926, the Duino Elegies were quickly recognized by critics and scholars as his most important work. From 1912 to 1923, the elegies languished incomplete for long stretches of time as Rilke suffered frequently from severe depression—some of which was caused by the events of World War I and being conscripted into military service. When the war ended Rilke experienced a sudden, renewed inspiration—writing in a frantic pace he described as a "boundless storm, a hurricane of the spirit.” 

Rilke explores the nature of mankind’s contact with beauty, and its transience, noting that humanity is forever only getting a brief, momentary glimpse of an inconceivable beauty and that is terrifying. depicted this infinite, transcendental beauty with the symbol of angels. However, he did not use the traditional Christian interpretation of angels. He sought to utilize a symbol of the angel that was secular, divorced from religious doctrine and embodied a tremendous transcendental beauty. Rilke begins his first elegy in an invocation of philosophical despair, asking: "Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the hierarchies of angels?" and later declares that "every angel is terrifying.” Rilke describes this frightened experience, defining beauty as “nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.”  While labelling of these poems as "elegies" would typically imply melancholy and lamentation, many passages are marked by their positive energy and "unrestrained enthusiasm". The Duino Elegies discuss themes of the limitations and insufficiency of the human condition and fractured human consciousness ... man's loneliness, the perfection of the angels, life and death, love and lovers, and the task of the poet.” 

To join the consortium, I ask that each participant donate on a sliding scale of $50 to $100. This will cover creative labor, printing, and engraving costs. You will receive the final score with your names credited as part of the consortium, and you will have licensing rights to perform the piece whenever and however you would like, with exception of commercial recording. I will also be able to workshop with each of you over the performance of the work, either individually or as a group if preferred. 

Half of all proceeds will be donated to the Equal Justice Initiative.


- Consortium runs until September 1st, 2020

- First draft completed October 1st, 2020

- Final draft completed October 15th, 2020


I am very much looking forward to this project, and hope that it will bring you solace and understanding of our own ability to see light and love through the harshest of times. 

Rosśa Crean 

Lakeside, MI 

June 24, 2020