Chorus and Opera
The Ring of Words
Chorus (TTBB), 3 French horns, and bassoon / Written on poems from Robert Louis Stevenson's Songs of Travel, these four choruses reflect on different experiences in a man's life. In the first, he awakes with his lover in his arms; the second contemplates the fragility of life, whereas in the third he has an encounter with a young man who might be his son. It concludes with a paean to the power of poetry to survive even after the poet is gone.
There is an alternate version accompanied by organ available on request.
The Ring of Words was the winner in a composition contest sponsored by the Windy City Gay Chorus, which gave the work its premiere.
Duration: 10 minutes
Embrace the Grace
Chorus (SATB) / This Christmas carol has lyrics by Leah Maddrie. It is celebratory and speaks to the season without being overly religious, making it suitable for concert, community, or religious performances. The sound file is a MIDI.
Duration: 3 minutes
All Are Not Frogs
Who Gape for Flies
Chamber Opera* / "All Are Not Frogs..." is a farce based on the Commedia dell'Arte and the conventions of classical opera. The plot concerns an old man's wooing of his pretty young maid. She, of course, has already set her mind on the capture of the handsome valet, who - in turn - is thoroughly infatuated with a colorful opera singer. Everyone has his/her own scheme to be the victor in this rectangular affaire del coeur.
The typically convoluted Commedia plot is further complicated when only one of the singers schedule to perform the opera (Gelsominia) arrives at the theatre. Rather than disappoint the audience, Gelsominia performs all four roles herself, using Commedia masks and a trunkful of props in a tour de force for the soprano. The libretto is by the composer.
An alternate orchestration is available for piano and harpsichord.
This sound excerpt is from the first scene and is sung by Susan Janes Ryan. The score excerpt is the first interlude.
Duration: 30 minutes
*lyric soprano; oboe, clarinet; trumpet, trombone; percussion; harpsichord; violin, violoncello, contrabass
The Girl on the
Opera* / In this one-act opera, Lisa, a young Italian woman from a village on the coast, has been reduced to prostitution in the final years of World War II in Rome. Robert, an American soldier, seeking some sort of domestic situation, arranges for her to live with him, posing as his wife. Ugo, their landlord, immediately understands the situation, but allows them to stay, believing this is better for Lisa than life on the street. Robert finds that he is falling in love with Lisa, but she resists any emotional involvement.
Their relationship begins to improve until one evening a policeman, called by a disturbance in another apartment, arrives. He inquires into their situation and without any proof of marriage gives Lisa a summons to appear in court to be registered as a prostitute. Robert promises to take her away from Rome. The next day while Robert is out making preparations to move, Lisa, unable to face the shame of being branded a prostitute, runs from the apartment and throws herself in the Tiber.
Robert returns moments too late and is devastated by her action. Ugo utters a final comment on the life the Americans have brought to Rome.
The libretto is by Elsa Rael based on the novel by Alfred Hays. The 2 excerpts here are from scene 3. In the first, Lisa is deciding whether to stay with Robert or leave while she can. In the second, she is finishing a memory about her childhood and Robert offers to take her back to that small town. The singers in the excerpts are Emily Hastings and Ron Edwards, who are accompanied by Dale Johnson.
Score available on request.
Duration: 2 hours, 15 minutes
*Singers: Lisa (mezzo soprano), Robert (baritone), Ugo (tenor), Policeman (small speaking part (baritone))
Orchestra: 1(picc.):1(e.hn.):1(b.cl.):1/1 perc, pn, hp/strings (4:0:2:4:2) (strings maybe doubled in a large house)