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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
Solomon and Balkis
Randall Thompson
Ira Randall Thompson (April 21, 1899 - July 9, 1984) is best known for his choral and vocal music and as a professor at Curtis Institute of Music and Harvard University. The son of an English teacher, Randall was always involved in an academic environment. He began musical study on the organ and his first attempts at composition began around 1915 with a piano sonata and a Christmas partsong. A year later he entered Harvard University and auditioned for the chorus but was turned down by its conductor, Archibald T. Davison, who eventually became his mentor. He stayed devoted music and composition, experimenting with many different styles before studying at the American Academy in Rome where, inspired by the master composers of the Renaissance, he developed the musical style which led him to the forefront of American choral composers. Thompson later mused, "My life has been an attempt to strike back."
Randall Thompson
Harvard Orchestra
Radcliffe Choral Society
Malcolm W. Holmes (conductor)
S. Leonard Kent (stage director)
M. Willoughby Todd (Balkis)
Robert Soule (Solomon)
Philip Stolar (Butterfly)
Marjorie Rice (Butterfly's Wife)
Audrey Y. Dennison (Egyptian Queen)
April 14, 1942
Harvard University
Solomon and his favorite wife, Balkis, are walking in his palace garden discussing the worry his other wives are causing him with their constant bickering and bad behavior. Balkis urges Solomon to use his magic to demonstrate his power to them but he refuses to show off.

Solomon walks on alone and witnesses a butterfly arguing with his wife. The butterfly attempts to impress her by saying that his powers are so great that if he were to stomp his foot the entire palace and gardens would disappear. Balkis, who overhears the dispute, persuades Solomon to use his powers to make it seem as if the butterfly were able to vanish the palace with a stomp of his foot. He does so and the joke settles the butterflies' dispute.

Solomon is so delighted that he does not notice the arrival the other queens. Balkis explains the lesson of obedience to the wives and they realize they have caused Solomon great distress. Solomon is amazed at the wisdom of his wife for allowing him to use his magic as a joke and not out of pride.
Solomon (bar.)
Balkis, Queen of Sheba (ms)
The Butterfly (t)
The Butterfly's Wife (s)
Egyptian Queen (s)
Four Djinns
0:55
Not Available
Thorpe Music Publishing Co.

Spring 2014 Magazine Issue
  • From Gold Rush to Google
  • Before, After and During Opera Conference 2014
  • OPERA America's New Works Forum Expands and Explores
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