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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
North American Works Directory Listing
A Brief History of Root Vegetables
David Heuser
David Heuser began composing almost immediately after his first piano lessons at the age of seven, writing short tunes in imitation of the exercises he was studying. He continued to write music throughout his childhood, some for piano, chorus, and wind ensemble, and some for the rock bands he was in. After high school, he attended the Eastman School of Music and then the Indiana University School of Music, where he received his doctorate degree in music composition in 1995. A native of New Jersey, Heuser has resided in San Antonio since 1997. He is a Professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where he teaches music composition and theory, and electronic music, and serves as Associate Chair of the Music Department.
David Heuser
Eugene Dowdy (Conductor)
http://www.nonsequiturmusic.com/rootveggies.htm
March 05, 2010
University of Texas at San Antonio Lyric Theatre
Act I, Scene 1: The home of Madam Odelia Smyth-Maggót, at sunrise.
Travis, a young man, comes home from a night out on the town and sings about the joys of the early morning. Everyone else in the house yells at him to shut up because they are trying to sleep. The Narrator then begins to explain the situation to the audience when he is also told to be quiet by the disturbed sleepers. So we waits for some time to pass.

Act I, Scene 2: The same, a few hours later.
The Narrator explains that the extended Smyth-Maggót family has come to their ancestral home for the funeral of the family matriarch, Madam Odelia Smyth-Maggót. Pembroke Jr. tries to take control of the plans in preparation for the funeral the next day, but is interrupted by other members of the family and, especially, the Narrator. The two get into an argument which spills over to the entire family. Everyone leaves to begin cleaning out the house except Valerie and Pemmie; Pemmie is quite dejected by his inability to stand up to his father. He sings about his dreams of travelling the world, but is undermined by the Narrator (who keeps injecting himself into Pemmie’s song). As Pemmie leaves, Travis (Pemmie’s cousin) comes downstairs with Bridget (Pemmie and Valerie’s younger sister). There is a knock at the door. Claudio, the family gardener and a dear friend to the cousins, enters. We quickly learn Claudio can only say the word “Rutabaga.” Valerie and Bridget tell their friends about Claudio’s story with the help of Claudio and Travis. We learn Claudio reached this sad state of affairs when he was cursed by a witch as a young boy. With a rousing cheer for Claudio, the group of friends launch into a chorus about how great it is to be young and carefree. Travis seems melancholy, though, and he steps forward to sing about how confusing love can be, and how he can’t commit to just one girl. Just then Joy, a childhood friend, appears in the garden, and Travis takes off after her. The Narrator is also smitten with Joy and tries to follow. Instead, he gets rushed off the stage by the young people, who then go off to the pub.

A Mysterious Stranger appears and expresses his concern for the family, but he decides to wait to see what will happen next before acting. The Narrator reappears, somewhat disheveled from his encounter with the young folks, and expresses concern that the Mysterious Stranger is not in his script.

Act I, Scene 3: Madam Smyth-Maggót’s bedroom, a little while later.
Pembroke Jr. is going through the items left in his mother’s room while movers take her furniture out. He wonders who will mother him now that his mother is gone. As the last piece of furniture is removed, Pembroke Jr. spies his mother’s journal on the floor. The Narrator, disguised as a mover, tries to stay behind and read the journal, but Pembroke, Jr. discovers him and tosses him out. As Pembroke, Jr. begins to peruse the journal, he is embarrassed to find out all of the entries seem to be of a sexual nature. Finally, he gets to the last entry in which his mother relates how his Father gave her a priceless ruby (in a red jewelry box locked with a red key) twenty years before, right before he left for a trip to Nepal – a trip he never returned from as he was killed by an avalanche. Convinced the ruby is still in the house, Pembroke, Jr. becomes excited. Trophy comes along, and he tells her they must begin to search for the jewelry box, but must keep it a secret, especially as he really needs the money to cover his embezzlement scheme. Just as they rush off to catch the movers before the furniture is taken away, they bump into Elaina. After they go, Elaina finds the journal, which they accidentally left behind, and she reads about the ruby as well. The three sing about what finding the jewel will do for them.

Intermission

Act II, Scene 1: The garden outside the house, at about the same time.
Joy and Travis meet in the garden and express their love for each other, as well as their concerns for their relationship. The Narrator appears and tries to get between the lovers to express his own feeling for Joy, but Claudio jumps him and chases him offstage. Travis assures Joy that their class differences (he has money; she doesn’t) don’t matter to him. They are interrupted by the stagehands preparing for the next scene and must hurry to finish their song. After they leave, the Mysterious Stranger appears and, again, decides to wait before acting.

Act II, Scene 2: Inside the house, a little while later.
Elaina and Pemmie argue and search for the ruby and argue some more. Faye complains about her family. Trophy comes to her for help with her search and ends up spilling the beans about the ruby. Talbot learns about the ruby from Faye and goes looking for it. Meanwhile Elaina and Pemmie go looking for it in Valerie and Bridget’s room. Talbot accidentally tells Valerie about the ruby. Pembroke Jr. discovers Trophy drunk and passed out in Faye’s room and gets really mad. Valerie tells Bridget about the ruby, and, when the two of them come back to their own room, Elaina and Pemmie have to quickly return to their room, which means Tabot and Faye have to quickly return to their room. Pembroke Jr. confronts Faye about Trophy’s condition; Faye confronts Pembroke Jr. about his embezzlement. Everyone decides to search downstairs for the jewelry box at the same time. The Narrator, who’s script is now in tatters, gets run over by the whole lot of them and then chased by Claudio. After several false cries of “I’ve found it,” Pemmie and Pembroke Jr. find the missing jewelry box at the same time. The Narrator jumps in, and just about everyone gets mad at him for always interrupting. He insists that his is the only essential part in the opera. Everyone else quits. The audience is asked to please stand by.

Act III, Scene 1: The stage.
The lawyers sing about the joys of billable hours. The worried Producer tries to come to terms with the cast. It is decided that the Narrator will be forbidden from speaking for the rest of the opera. Other complaints are brought up. Eventually the lawyers hammer out an agreement while singing about billable hours some more. The audience is told that the show will now skip to the last scene.

Act III, Scene 2: In the living room, a few moments after Act II, Scene 2. The Narrator, under police escort, is unable to silence himself and is ejected. Pembroke Jr., Elaina and Pemmie argue over who should get the jewelry box. Pemmie challenges his father to roll dice for it, and he matches his father’s roll again and again. Finally, Pemmie wins, but quickly caves to his wife’s insistence that she hold on the box. The Mysterious Stanger suddenly appears and reveals that not only did Pembroke Sr. survive the avalanche, but he is in fact Pembroke Sr. With new knowledge about Claudio’s curse, he helps to lift it, and Claudio reveals to everyone the Pembroke Jr.’s been embezzling, and that Travis and Joy are having a secret love affair. Pembroke Jr. is chastised by his father, but it turns out no one really cares that Joy is so much poorer than Travis. Travis suddenly seems less interested in her. Claudio then reveals that the Narrator has had the key ever since someone threw it at him in Act I, Scene 1. The Narrator is brought back out on stage and searched. In addition to the key, the cast finds several other items on him.

The jewelry box is opened, but contains only a piece of paper which reveals that the ruby is in the possession of a doctor in the Maldives. Faye, Talbot, Pemmie and Elaina decide to leave immediately (skipping the funeral) in order to go after the ruby. Trophy tells Pembroke Jr. she’s divorcing him, and he leaves distraught, followed by Valerie. Pembroke Sr., Bridget and Claudio decide to live together in the house, and invite Travis and Joy to stay with them. After they leave, Travis and Joy sing their love song again, but Travis cuts it short and, instead, runs off with the Policewoman who’s been guarding the Narrator. Joy leaves in tears. The Narrator calls after her. Realizing he is alone on stage, he straightens himself up as best he can, and tells the audience the moral to the opera.
Pembroke Smyth-Maggót, Jr., son of Odelia & Pembroke Senior (baritone)
Trophy, his wife (mezzo-soprano)
Pembroke III, known as Pemmie, son of Pembroke, Jr. and Trophy (tenor)
Elaina, Pemmie’s wife (mezzo-soprano)
Valerie, middle child of Pembroke, Jr. and Trophy (mezzo-soprano)
Bridget, youngest child of Pembroke, Jr. and Trophy (mezzo-soprano)
Faye Smyth-Maggót, daughter of Odelia & Pembroke Senior, Pembroke Jr.’s older sister (mezzo-soprano)
Talbot Blagh, her ex-husband (lyric baritone)
Travis Blagh, their son (tenor)
Pembroke Smyth-Maggót, Senior - also known as the Mysterious Stranger (bass/baritone)
Claudio, the family gardener (baritone)
Joy, a childhood friend of Travis (lyric soprano)
The Narrator (baritone)
The Producer (soprano or bass/baritone)
Stagehands 1 and 2 (baritones)
Policewoman (mezzo-soprano)
02:30
Not Available
Chorus: Young townspeople, movers, police, lawyers, astronauts, Nepalese people, and root vegetables.
fl, ob, cl, bsn - hrn, tpt, tbn - pno, perc - strings
Non Sequitur Music Publishing
2112 Ontario Street
Bellingham, WA 98229
nsm@nonsequiturmusic.com
(360) 733-7145
http://www.davidheuser.com/
http://www.nonsequiturmusic.com

Summer 2014 Magazine Issue
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  • My First Opera by Speight Jenkins
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