MARK TWAIN AND THE GENERAL
A one act opera reading
Music by Robert W. Butts
Libretto by Jewel Seehaus-Fisher
WHEN: Saturday, May 19, 2:00 PM
WHERE: Cranford Community Center, 220 Walnut Street, Cranford
Award-winning New Jersey playwright Jewel Seehaus-Fisher wrote the play Mark Twain and the General a few years ago, but recognized the story’s potential as musical theater. Inspired by the play, Maestro Butts asked Jewel to take some segments and write the words in a fashion that could be used for the lyrical writing needed for the operatic distinction between arias and recitatives. While most of the work is freely flowing and the words are not always lyrics in the sense of strict poetic stansaic structure, other segments—most notably the duet “Whiskey Tastes Good” sung by Mark Twain and Ulysses S. Grant—are more songlike in style. Jewel's development of the historical characters and a poignant moment in their lives and in American history provided the inspiration for the operatic writing. The contrast of horrifying historical events and deeply human emotions provided the inspiration for contrasting scenes of deep intensity with those of melodic lyricism.
The performance stars bass John Lamb as Ullysses S. Grant, tenor Brian Jamieson as Mark Twain, soprano Karole Lewis as Julia Grant, and mezzo Alexandra Altonjy as the cook. Accompanying the singers will be Carol Binkowski on piano and Nancy Connell on cello.