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The Village Singer

The Village Singer

opera in one act

libretto by Michael Dennis Browne

after a story by Mary Wilkins Freeman


  • Edition: performance material
  • Language: English

 
description
In a small New England village at the turn of the century, Candace Whitcomb has been the lead soprano in her church choir for forty years when she discovers, quite unceremoniously, that her congregation has decided to dismiss her and replace her with a younger singer. Shocked and indignant, Candace sets out to make her opposition known. She tells off the minister, disrupts Sunday morning service (and the new soprano’s debut solo) by singing with her home organ from her cottage next door, and complains of her dire situation to her nephew, who is, of course, engaged to the young new soloist. By the time all gather round to forgive and make up, Candace has become deathly ill. She requests a solo from the younger soloist, and even as death beckons, she manages a parting shot.
When Stephen Paulus was commissioned to write a one-act opera for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis’s 1979 season, he had never even taken a course on opera, let alone written one. After confessing his inexperience to the Opera Theatre’s general manager, he set out to meet his patron’s expectations, reading through 100 short stories before coming across Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman’s ‘A Village Singer’. Freeman’s opening lines immediately conjured up a bittersweet, wholly American musical landscape for Paulus, and it quickly blossomed into The Village Singer. A piece whose premiere was deemed an astonishing debut, the opera has consistently been praised for the way in which it elegantly pairs musically well-defined characters and tenacious dramatic flair.
Details
Auftragswerk : Commissioned by the New Music Circle of St. Louis, Missouri in commemoration of its 20th Anniversary Season, with assistance from the Camelot Fund and for Opera Theatre of St. Louis
Performance duration: 60'0"
Publisher: Schott Music Corporation
Uraufführung : 9. Juni 1979 St. Louis, MO, Opera Theatre (USA) · Dirigent: C. William Harwood · Inszenierung: Colin Graham · Kostüme: John Carver Sullivan · Bühnenbild: Maxine Willi Klein
Year of composition: 1979
instrumentation: 2.1.2.1-1.0.0.0-timp.2perc(4tom-t, s.d, b.d, sus cym, tam-t, wind chimes, tub bells, glsp, xyl, tempbl)-hp.keybd(pno, harm or elec org)-str(3.3.2.2.1)
occupation: Candace Whitcomb (early 60's) · soprano - Alma Way (30) · soprano* - Minnie Lansing (45) · soprano* - Jenny Carr (25) · mezzo-soprano* - Nancy Ford (50), Candace's sister · mezzo-soprano* - Wilson Ford (32), Nancy's son, Candace's nephew, engaged to Alma Way · tenor* - The Reverend Pollard (50's) · tenor - Todd Wilkins (28) · tenor* - William Emmons (60's), the choir leader · baritone* - Brent Freeman (65) · Bass* (*These singers make up the choir, unless otherwise marked.)
Performances
Orchestra: UT Symphony Orchestra
2010-04-25 | Knoxville, TN (United States of America), Bijou Theatre — 20.00h
Orchestra: UT Symphony Orchestra
2010-04-24 | Knoxville, TN (United States of America), Bijou Theatre — 14.00h
Orchestra: UT Symphony Orchestra
2010-04-24 | Knoxville, TN (United States of America), Bijou Theatre — 20.00h
2008-05-18 | Sacramento, CA (United States of America), CSUS Playwright\'s Theatre
2008-05-15 | Sacramento, CA (United States of America), CSUS Playwright\'s Theatre
Orchestra: San Jose State University
2007-05-13 | (United States of America), San Pedro Square Theater
Orchestra: San Jose State University
2007-05-12 | (United States of America), San Pedro Square Theater
Orchestra: San Jose State University
2007-05-11 | (United States of America), San Pedro Square Theater
Orchestra: San Jose State University
2007-05-10 | (United States of America), San Pedro Square Theater
Orchestra: Manhattan School of Music
2006-12-10 | New York, NY (United States of America), Borden Auditorium
Orchestra: Manhattan School of Music
2006-12-09 | New York, NY (United States of America), Borden Auditorium
Orchestra: Manhattan School of Music
2006-12-08 | New York, NY (United States of America), Borden Auditorium
Orchestra: Manhattan School of Music
2006-12-07 | New York, NY (United States of America), Borden Auditorium
Orchestra: Manhattan School of Music
2006-12-06 | New York, NY (United States of America), Borden Auditorium
Conductor: C. William Harwood
1979-06-09 | St. Louis, MO (United States of America), Opera Theatre | World Premiere
In a small New England village at the turn of the century, Candace Whitcomb has been the lead soprano in her church choir for forty years when she discovers, quite unceremoniously, that her congregation has decided to dismiss her and replace her with a younger singer. Shocked and indignant, Candace sets out to make her opposition known. She tells off the minister, disrupts Sunday morning service (and the new soprano’s debut solo) by singing with her home organ from her cottage next door, and complains of her dire situation to her nephew, who is, of course, engaged to the young new soloist. By the time all gather round to forgive and make up, Candace has become deathly ill. She requests a solo from the younger soloist, and even as death beckons, she manages a parting shot.
When Stephen Paulus was commissioned to write a one-act opera for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis’s 1979 season, he had never even taken a course on opera, let alone written one. After confessing his inexperience to the Opera Theatre’s general manager, he set out to meet his patron’s expectations, reading through 100 short stories before coming across Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman’s ‘A Village Singer’. Freeman’s opening lines immediately conjured up a bittersweet, wholly American musical landscape for Paulus, and it quickly blossomed into The Village Singer. A piece whose premiere was deemed an astonishing debut, the opera has consistently been praised for the way in which it elegantly pairs musically well-defined characters and tenacious dramatic flair.
Auftragswerk : Commissioned by the New Music Circle of St. Louis, Missouri in commemoration of its 20th Anniversary Season, with assistance from the Camelot Fund and for Opera Theatre of St. Louis
Performance duration: 60'0"
Publisher: Schott Music Corporation
Uraufführung : 9. Juni 1979 St. Louis, MO, Opera Theatre (USA) · Dirigent: C. William Harwood · Inszenierung: Colin Graham · Kostüme: John Carver Sullivan · Bühnenbild: Maxine Willi Klein
Year of composition: 1979
instrumentation: 2.1.2.1-1.0.0.0-timp.2perc(4tom-t, s.d, b.d, sus cym, tam-t, wind chimes, tub bells, glsp, xyl, tempbl)-hp.keybd(pno, harm or elec org)-str(3.3.2.2.1)
occupation: Candace Whitcomb (early 60's) · soprano - Alma Way (30) · soprano* - Minnie Lansing (45) · soprano* - Jenny Carr (25) · mezzo-soprano* - Nancy Ford (50), Candace's sister · mezzo-soprano* - Wilson Ford (32), Nancy's son, Candace's nephew, engaged to Alma Way · tenor* - The Reverend Pollard (50's) · tenor - Todd Wilkins (28) · tenor* - William Emmons (60's), the choir leader · baritone* - Brent Freeman (65) · Bass* (*These singers make up the choir, unless otherwise marked.)
Orchestra: UT Symphony Orchestra
2010-04-25 | Knoxville, TN (United States of America), Bijou Theatre — 20.00h
Orchestra: UT Symphony Orchestra
2010-04-24 | Knoxville, TN (United States of America), Bijou Theatre — 14.00h
Orchestra: UT Symphony Orchestra
2010-04-24 | Knoxville, TN (United States of America), Bijou Theatre — 20.00h
2008-05-18 | Sacramento, CA (United States of America), CSUS Playwright\'s Theatre
2008-05-15 | Sacramento, CA (United States of America), CSUS Playwright\'s Theatre
Orchestra: San Jose State University
2007-05-13 | (United States of America), San Pedro Square Theater
Orchestra: San Jose State University
2007-05-12 | (United States of America), San Pedro Square Theater
Orchestra: San Jose State University
2007-05-11 | (United States of America), San Pedro Square Theater
Orchestra: San Jose State University
2007-05-10 | (United States of America), San Pedro Square Theater
Orchestra: Manhattan School of Music
2006-12-10 | New York, NY (United States of America), Borden Auditorium
Orchestra: Manhattan School of Music
2006-12-09 | New York, NY (United States of America), Borden Auditorium
Orchestra: Manhattan School of Music
2006-12-08 | New York, NY (United States of America), Borden Auditorium
Orchestra: Manhattan School of Music
2006-12-07 | New York, NY (United States of America), Borden Auditorium
Orchestra: Manhattan School of Music
2006-12-06 | New York, NY (United States of America), Borden Auditorium
Conductor: C. William Harwood
1979-06-09 | St. Louis, MO (United States of America), Opera Theatre | World Premiere
Other Editions