In April 2010, Chris Schoen and I were performing series of cantastorias of the wine poems by Charles Baudelaire. Chris had set the poem to music and I drew a scroll of images to accompany the song. After a show as a part of the Banners & Cranks festival, someone came up to me and asked if my plan was to make a cantastoria for all of Baudelaire’s poetry. I laughed.
And then I said what the hell.
Baudelaire in a Box is a multi-year project setting the poems of Les fleurs du mal to music. Each episode a group of composers choose whichever poems they’d like and set them to original music. Then I create scrolls illustrating the poems. The night before the show we meet and put the songs and the visual art together.
We have created some 40 new songs so far by Chris Schoen, Sebastian Paz, The New Town Drunks, Curtis Eller, Ronnie Kuller, Jeff Dorchen, J Kutchma, Amy Warren, Amalea Tshilds, Adelind Horan and Kate Douglas.
It has been performed in Chicago, New York, North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Madison, Wisconsin.
2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Baudelaire’s death and we are planning a presentation of all the poems we have turned into cantastoria that year.
-Dave Buchen, 2010