My piece the whisper opera is a mysterious little alternative world. It has its own rules and its own peculiar way of proceeding, it has its own architecture, it builds its world by giving the viewer only a few bare hints of text and music, it is full of secrets. Here are a few of my favorite books that feel to me like they must have had something to do with how I made this piece.

Samuel Beckett, The Lost Ones (New York: Grove Press, 1972).
A novella that imagines a community of people confined to a small space, and whose lives are consumed by trying to discover just how small that space really is.

John Cage, Silence (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1961).
A book of essays by the music world’s great experimenter and philosopher.

Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984).
An idiosyncratic essay about how people relate to each other, masquerading as a kind of anthropology survey.

John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications; reprint edition, 1989).
An idiosyncratic list of rules for the creation of beauty in art, masquerading as a kind of architecture survey.

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A Midwife’s Tale (New York: Knopf, 1990).
A deep and moving examination of a moment in American history, assembled through microscopic reading of the mundane details found in the diary of a pre-Revolutionary War midwife.