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(b New York, NY, Oct 1, 1948). American lyricist. She has collaborated frequently with Stephen Flaherty.

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Bruce Archibald

Opera for television in one act by Gian Carlo Menotti to his own libretto; NBC, New York, 24 December 1951.

The stage is in two parts. One is the stark interior of a shepherd’s hut; surrounding it is the exterior showing distant hills, a road winding offstage to the left and reappearing among the hills, and a starry sky with the star of Bethlehem shining brightly. After a very short prelude of soft, tender music Amahl (boy soprano, about 12 years old), who is crippled, is seen and heard (oboe) playing his shepherd’s pipe. It is a cheerful C major tune, totally diatonic, over a drone C–G bass 5th. He is seated outside the hut wearing an oversized cloak. His mother (soprano) calls him to go to bed. He delays as long as possible but finally takes his crutch and hobbles into the hut. He tells her of the large bright star and she replies that he is a chronic liar and complains of their poverty. Amahl begins a short duet – comforting his mother – which closes with ‘Good night’. While they sleep, he on a bed of straw and she on a bench, the voices of the Three Kings are heard in the distance: Kaspar (tenor), Melchior (baritone) and Balthazar (bass). Amahl wakes up and hobbles to the window. He tells his mother that he sees three kings and, of course, she does not believe him. The kings and a page (baritone) are allowed in by the bewildered mother. They settle in, the kings seated on the bench and the page on a stool, to a stately but sprightly march from the orchestra. During the following conversation there is a humorous song by Kaspar – ‘This is my box’. He shows off the precious gems in his box, but most important is the liquorice. He gives some to Amahl. In staged performances this song is often sung with Kaspar walking among the audience tossing out sweets....

Article

America  

Charles Garrett

A national song of the United States, also known by the words of its first line, “My country, ’tis of thee”; see Patriotic music.

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Charles Garrett

Title of a poem written to the melody “Glory hallelujah” during the Civil War, and by extension the title of the resulting national song; see Patriotic music.

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Virginia Saya

Opera buffa in one act by Dominick Argento to a libretto by John Olon (pseudonym of John Scrymgeour) after Anton Pavlovich Chekhov ’s play The Bear; Rochester, New York, Eastman School of Music, 6 May 1957.

A young Widow (soprano) has been mourning the death of her husband for exactly one year. A neighbour, the Boor (bass-baritone), arrives to collect a debt owed by the deceased, only to be rebuked for his indelicacy at making such a request on this anniversary. A lengthy argument ensues and a duel is proposed. In the heat of the moment, it comes out that the widow harboured no real fondness for her faithless, neglectful husband, and in the wake of these revelations, a new passion is kindled....

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Marilyn Fritz Shardlow

(b near Winchester, VA, Dec 7, 1873; d New York, NY, April 24, 1947). American poet, journalist, and author. Between 1892 and 1940, she produced numerous novels, three short story collections, and one volume of poetry. Born and raised in rural Virginia, Cather moved with her family to Nebraska in ...

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Judith A. Sebesta

(b New York, NY, Nov 24, 1934). American lyricist and director. Charnin graduated from Cooper Union in New York and began his career as an actor, appearing as a Jet in the original production of West Side Story. He first worked as a lyricist with Mary Rodgers on ...

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Norm Cohen

A collection of 305 ballads from oral tradition included by Francis James Child in his The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882–98). Approximately 120 have been found in American oral tradition. While many of the ballads deal with British historical events, those that survive in America generally concern universal themes such as unrequited love (“Barbara Allen” [Child No. 84]), love triangles (“Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender” [73]), infidelity (“Gypsy Davy” (200)), and adultery (“Little Matty Groves” [81]). A few treat humorous subjects, such as “Our Goodman”/“Three Nights Drunk” (274), about a drunkard cuckolded on successive nights by his sharp-tongued wife, or “The Farmer’s Curst Wife” (278), about a farmer whose pact with the devil to take his wife away goes awry....

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Andrew Stiller

Folk opera in one act by Douglas S(tuart) Moore to a libretto (‘book’) by Stephen Vincent Benét after his own short story; New York, Martin Beck Theater, 18 May 1939.

Moore and Benét called this work a folk opera ‘because it is legendary in its subject matter and simple in its musical expression’. In fact, it is a musical, albeit an unorthodox one, with no overture, only one act, and much of the spoken dialogue accompanied by music. The opera may be performed either with full orchestra (wind in pairs) or a reduced ensemble with solo winds....

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Gerald Bordman and Jonas Westover

(b New York, NY, Sept 8, 1896; d New York, NY, July 30, 1983). American lyricist and librettist. He studied at Columbia University, where he was a contemporary of Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, and served in the US Navy before becoming director of publicity and advertising in ...

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Ellen Marie Peck

(b New York, NY, Jan 28, 1880; d New York, Jan 4, 1928). American lyricist, librettist, and actress. Born into a theatrical family, she spent her entire life in the theater. A meticulous actress, Donnelly was particularly known for her ability to interpret a role with depth and sensitivity at a rather young age, as she demonstrated with title roles in ...

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John Graziano

(b Dayton, OH, June 27, 1872; d Dayton, OH, Feb 9, 1906). American poet and lyricist. He was born into a family of former slaves, and although he had the opportunity to attend college through the generosity of white patrons, he decided to pursue a career as a poet and writer. After self-publishing his first collection of poems, he was invited to recite at the ...

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Kimberly Greene

(b Perth Amboy, NJ, Feb 19, 1766; d New York, NY, Sep 28, 1839). American playwright, librettist, theater manager, historian, and painter. Despite losing his sight in one eye due to an accident, Dunlap became a professional portrait painter in his youth, and he was noted for his paintings of George Washington. In ...

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Paul C. Echols and David Music

(b Northampton, MA, May 14, 1752; d New Haven, CT, Jan 11, 1817). American poet and author of hymn texts. He graduated from Yale College in 1769, becoming a tutor there two years later. He served as a chaplain in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and wrote the texts of several patriotic songs, one of which (“Columbia, Columbia, to Glory Arise,” ...

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James Leve

(b New York, NY, c8 April 1928–33; d New York, NY, Sept 11, 2004). American lyricist. He received a BA from New York University and a master’s degree in English literature from Columbia University. In the 1950s he collaborated with Phil Springer and placed several song lyrics with record companies in the Brill Building. He also collaborated with Paul Klein on three musicals, one of which, ...

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Robert F. Nisbett

Opera in two acts, with a prologue and an interlude, by Louis Gruenberg to his own libretto after Eugene O’Neill ; New York, Metropolitan Opera, 7 January 1933.

Gruenberg’s adaptation follows the play with few alterations, the most frequent changes being either omission of dialogue or repetition for emphasis. The story is that of an ex-Pullman porter Jones (baritone), who makes himself emperor of a West Indian island by combining an appeal to superstition with a white man’s cunning. Jones cynically exploits the natives, or ‘bush-niggers’ (as he calls them), until they rebel and he is forced to flee. Gruenberg made two important changes from the original play: a chorus acts as a commentator on the events taking place, and Jones kills himself rather than being murdered by the natives....

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Julian Budden

Opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to a libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini after David Belasco’s play The Girl of the Golden West; New York, Metropolitan Opera House, 10 December 1910.

Early in 1907, during his first visit to New York for the Metropolitan premières of ...

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Ronald J. Zank

(b Brooklyn, NY, June 6, 1954). American performer, playwright and librettist. Fierstein grew up in New York and worked as an actor; he also pursued his interest in painting and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He was both lead actor and playwright for ...

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Judith A. Sebesta

(b Chicago, IL, Feb 25, 1928; d Beverly Hills, CA, Sept 11, 2009). American librettist. He began his prolific and diverse career at 16 writing for radio. After moving to television in the 1950s, he collaborated with such well-known early television actors as Sid Caesar and Mel Brooks. His career in that medium peaked with ...

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Song composed in 1918 by Irving Berlin, which became a national song after it was used for an Armistice Day broadcast in 1938; see Patriotic music.