Monkey See, Monkey Do
Composer: Robert Xavier Rodriguez
Composer Bio: Robert Xavier Rodríguez was born on 28 June 1946 in San Antonio, Texas, where he received his earliest training in piano and harmony. Subsequent musical education included study in composition with Hunter Johnson, Halsey Stevens, Jacob Druckman, and Nadia Boulanger. He gained international recognition in 1971 when awarded the Prix de Composition Musicale Prince Pierre de Monaco by Prince Rainier and Princess Grace at the Palais Princier in Monte Carlo. Other honors include the Prix Lili Boulanger, a Guggenheim Fellowship, four National Endowment for the Arts grants, and the Goddard Lieberson Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Rodríguez's music embraces all genres and often combines Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque techniques with ethnic and contemporary materials. He has had particular success with his seven operas. His most recent opera, Frida, based on the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, has enjoyed successful runs at the American Music Theatre Festival, The American Repertory Theatre in Boston, the Brooklyn Academy's Next Wave Festival, and the Houston Grand Opera. John Rockwell of The New York Times termed Frida, "the best opera/musical theater of 1991...a fascinating, magically engrossing evening...Mr. Rodríguez's music is genuinely original and genuinely accessible, a neat combination not that often achieved." Rodríguez's charming children's opera Monkey See, Monkey Do has had more than 1,000 performances since its premiere in 1986, making it one of the most often performed contemporary American operas in the repertory. The ensemble Voices of Change received a 1999 Grammy nomination in the Best Small Ensemble Performance category for the Rodríguez work Les Niaïs Amoureux.

Rodríguez's orchestral music also encompasses wide-ranging styles, from challenging works for large orchestra such as Oktoechos and Favola Boccaccesca to ballets such as Estampie and The Seven Deadly Sins to music for children such as the popular Colorful Symphony (with a text from Norton Juster's The Phantom Toll Booth) and the circus story, Trunks.

Conductors who have commissioned Rodríguez include Eduardo Mata, Neville Marriner, and Antal Dorati. Rodríguez's music is regularly performed by leading orchestras and opera companies such as the Dallas Opera, National Opera of Mexico, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, and the Cleveland Orchestra among many others. His music is published by G. Schirmer.
Librettist: Mary (Duren) Medrick
Other Artistic Personnel: Robert Xavier Rodriguez (Conductor)
"Pix" Smith (Puppet Direction)
Josefina García (Spanish translation)
Original Cast: Susan Barrow
Karl Dent
Charles Nelson
Premiere Date: February 18, 1987
Producing Company: The Dallas Opera
Description: A Mexican village square. Antonio frantically searches for his missing monkey. Maria and a trio of sympathetic villagers listen and try to help. Pedrito enters, wearing many sombreros piled upon his head. He tries to sell the sombreros, but the town people, more interested in Antonio's plight, rebuff him. Only Maria listens to Pedrito, and the two exchange tender words. The villagers leave to look for the monkey. Maria and Pedrito ask Antonio's permission to marry. Antonio refuses, calling Pedrito a failure. The organ grinder storms off to continue looking for the monkey. As Pedrito and Maria console each other, Antonio's monkey appears, this time with a girl monkey.

Unaware of the monkeys, Pedrito and Maria sing an affectionate duet. The monkeys imitate their phrases as well as their gestures, then rush off. Maria leaves to appeal once more to her father. Alone, Pedrito muses on his predicament and, still wearing his stack of sombreros, rests under a tree. As Pedrito dozes, the two monkeys reappear, now with a baby monkey. Antonio's monkey steals the top sombrero, the girl monkey steals the next sombrero and the baby monkey takes all but one of the remaining sombreros. One by one the three monkeys disappear into the branches of the tree. They suddenly reappear, accompanied by several other monkeys, wearing sombreros and singing. Sextet and Pantomime: Pedrito awakens and is alarmed to see the monkeys wearing his sombrero. Maria, Antonio and the villagers hear the commotion and enter only to add to the confusion. Pedrito waves his arms about in frustration, whereupon the monkeys, in unison, imitate him behind his back.

When Pedrito realizes that the monkeys are copying him, he leads them in an imitation pantomime, culminating in his throwing his own sombrero on the ground. Instantly the monkeys follow suit, and hats fly as Pedrito's sombreros come sailing down from the tree. Antonio rushes to congratulate Pedrito. As the two embrace, Antonio's monkey, the girl monkey, and the baby monkey join them on the ground, imitating the happy scene. The delighted villagers eagerly buy up the celebrated sombreros of the clever Pedrito. Antonio, now the proud owner of three monkeys, gives his blessing to Pedrito and Maria. The audience joins the cast in a Mexican celebration, clapping and singing.
Character List (Major): Pedrito(t)
Maria(s)
Antonio(b)
Character List (Minor): First Woman Villager/Baby Monkey(s)
Second Woman Villager/Girl Monkey(mz)
Bit Parts: Villagers
Reviews: Stephen A. Rapp, Opera Pacific; Mark Lynch, Opera for Youth
Length: 00:35
Total Acts: 1
Orchestration: 1 cl, 1 tpt, perc, gtr, can, pf, vln, vc
Musical Style: Opera for children
Contact: G. Schirmer, Inc.
Address: 257 Park Avenue South, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10010
E-mail Address: pm@schirmer.com
RobertXavierRodríguez@tx.rr.com
Phone: 212-254-2100
Composer Web Site: http://www.robertxavierrodriguez.com/
Publisher Web Site: http://www.schirmer.com
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