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The Italian Lesson

The Italian Lesson

Musical Monologue

for soprano or mezzo-soprano and ensemble

text by Ruth Draper, libretto by Mark Shulgasser


  • Edition: performance material
  • Language: English

 
Description
Based on the monologue by Ruth Draper, The Italian Lesson chronicles the morning activities of a formidable and pretentious Park Avenue matron of the 1920s. Setting out to translate the opening lines of Dante’s Inferno with her Italian teacher, she is continually distracted by her mischievous children (‘Barbara darling, get the baby. She’s in the waste-basket? Well, pull her out!’), her servants (‘Will you try and get me some men for the opera on Monday? I have a box, but I have no men’), her gossiping acquaintances (‘You didn’t! A whole glass of water! What nerve! Didn’t that ruin her hat?’), and the arrival of a new puppy, whom she christens Dante.
From the moment he heard a recording of Ruth Draper performing her monologue The Italian Lesson in the 1970s, Lee Hoiby was transfixed. After listening to the piece again (and again), not only did many of its phrases become household language for him, but he also recognized the inherent musicality of her performance and decided to set it to music. Hoiby employed Draper’s recorded reading as a guide to the singer’s rhythm, pitch and reflection, and has remarked that for his performer, exact pitches are often less important than expression and rhythm. A chamber ensemble accompanies the protagonist, accentuating the humorous, dramatic, and thoroughly frenzied nature of the text.
Details
Content text: I Signorina
II Mable Norton
III Jane
IV Miss Pounder
V Puppy
VI Count Bluffsky
VII Miss Swift
VIII Camilla
IX Miss Swift, cont'd.
X The Lover
Opus: op. 34
Performance duration: 45'0"
Publisher: Rock Valley Music Corporation (administered by Schott Music Corporation, New York)
Uraufführung : 1982 Newport, RI (USA) The Newport Festival 1982
Year of composition: 1982
instrumentation: 1.1.1.1-1.0.0.0-hp.pno-str(1.1.1.1.0 or augmented)
Delivery rights: worldwide
Performances
Orchestra: Opera Piccola of San Antonio
2014-11-02 | San Antonio, TX (United States of America), Charline McCombs Empire Theatre
Orchestra: Opera Piccola of San Antonio
2014-11-01 | San Antonio, TX (United States of America), Charline McCombs Empire Theatre
2014-08-01 | Calumet, MI (United States of America), Calumet Theater
2014-07-30 | Marquette, MI (United States of America), Reynolds Recital Hall
2014-07-29 | Crystal Falls, MI (United States of America), Crystal Theater
Conductor: Ted Taylor
2013-12-08 | New York, NY (United States of America), Poet\'s Den Theater
Conductor: Ted Taylor
2013-12-07 | New York, NY (United States of America), Poet\'s Den Theater — 8pm
Conductor: Ted Taylor
2013-12-07 | New York, NY (United States of America), Poet\'s Den Theater — 3pm
Conductor: Ted Taylor
2013-12-06 | New York, NY (United States of America), Poet\'s Den Theater | First Night
Orchestra: Opera Providence
2007-10-28 | Providence, RI (United States of America), Columbus Theatre — 15:00h
Orchestra: Opera Providence
2007-10-26 | Providence, RI (United States of America), Columbus Theatre — 20:00h
1982-01-01 | Newport, RI (United States of America) | World Premiere
Based on the monologue by Ruth Draper, The Italian Lesson chronicles the morning activities of a formidable and pretentious Park Avenue matron of the 1920s. Setting out to translate the opening lines of Dante’s Inferno with her Italian teacher, she is continually distracted by her mischievous children (‘Barbara darling, get the baby. She’s in the waste-basket? Well, pull her out!’), her servants (‘Will you try and get me some men for the opera on Monday? I have a box, but I have no men’), her gossiping acquaintances (‘You didn’t! A whole glass of water! What nerve! Didn’t that ruin her hat?’), and the arrival of a new puppy, whom she christens Dante.
From the moment he heard a recording of Ruth Draper performing her monologue The Italian Lesson in the 1970s, Lee Hoiby was transfixed. After listening to the piece again (and again), not only did many of its phrases become household language for him, but he also recognized the inherent musicality of her performance and decided to set it to music. Hoiby employed Draper’s recorded reading as a guide to the singer’s rhythm, pitch and reflection, and has remarked that for his performer, exact pitches are often less important than expression and rhythm. A chamber ensemble accompanies the protagonist, accentuating the humorous, dramatic, and thoroughly frenzied nature of the text.
Content text: I Signorina
II Mable Norton
III Jane
IV Miss Pounder
V Puppy
VI Count Bluffsky
VII Miss Swift
VIII Camilla
IX Miss Swift, cont'd.
X The Lover
Opus: op. 34
Performance duration: 45'0"
Publisher: Rock Valley Music Corporation (administered by Schott Music Corporation, New York)
Uraufführung : 1982 Newport, RI (USA) The Newport Festival 1982
Year of composition: 1982
instrumentation: 1.1.1.1-1.0.0.0-hp.pno-str(1.1.1.1.0 or augmented)
Delivery rights: worldwide
Orchestra: Opera Piccola of San Antonio
2014-11-02 | San Antonio, TX (United States of America), Charline McCombs Empire Theatre
Orchestra: Opera Piccola of San Antonio
2014-11-01 | San Antonio, TX (United States of America), Charline McCombs Empire Theatre
2014-08-01 | Calumet, MI (United States of America), Calumet Theater
2014-07-30 | Marquette, MI (United States of America), Reynolds Recital Hall
2014-07-29 | Crystal Falls, MI (United States of America), Crystal Theater
Conductor: Ted Taylor
2013-12-08 | New York, NY (United States of America), Poet\'s Den Theater
Conductor: Ted Taylor
2013-12-07 | New York, NY (United States of America), Poet\'s Den Theater — 8pm
Conductor: Ted Taylor
2013-12-07 | New York, NY (United States of America), Poet\'s Den Theater — 3pm
Conductor: Ted Taylor
2013-12-06 | New York, NY (United States of America), Poet\'s Den Theater | First Night
Orchestra: Opera Providence
2007-10-28 | Providence, RI (United States of America), Columbus Theatre — 15:00h
Orchestra: Opera Providence
2007-10-26 | Providence, RI (United States of America), Columbus Theatre — 20:00h
1982-01-01 | Newport, RI (United States of America) | World Premiere
Other Editions