The Ballad of Baby Doe
Composer: Douglas Moore
Librettist: John Latouche
Other Artistic Personnel: Emerson Buckley (Conductor)
Donald Oenslager (Production Designer)
Hanya Holm and Edward Levy (Stage Directors)
Original Cast: Walter Cassel (later Clifford Harvua) as Tabor
Martha Lipton (later Frances Bible) as Augusta
Dolores Wilson (later Lenya Gabriele) as Baby Doe
Beatrice Krebs as Mama McCourt
Lawrence Davidson (later Norman Treigle) as William Jennings Bryan
Premiere Date: July 07, 1956
Producing Company: Central City Opera

This classic American opera had its world premiere at Central City Opera in 1956. The true riches-to-rags adventure of Elizabeth (Baby) Doe and Horace Tabor takes place during the pinnacle of Colorado’s mining history. An intriguing epic of love and loss, boom and bust, the story is set to beautiful music by composer Douglas Moore.

Click here for more detailed information on this North American work.

Character List (Major): Horace Tabor (bar)
Augusta Tabor (mz)
Mrs. Elizabeth (Baby) Doe (s)
Mama McCourt, Baby Doe's mother (con)
William Jennings Bryan (bb)
Bit Parts: Chester A. Arthur (t)
Father Chapelle (t)
Old Silver Miner (t)
Clerk at the Clarendon Hotel (t)
Mayor of Leadville (t)
Stage Doorman at Tabor Grand (t)
Bouncer (bar)
Albert, a bellboy (bar)
A Footman (bar)
A Denver Politician (bar)
Sarah, Mary, Emily, Effie (2s, 2mz)
Sam, Bushy, Barney, Jacob (2t, 2bar)
Four Washington Dandies (2t, 2bar)
Kate, dance hall entertainer (s)
Elizabeth, age 12 (s)
Silver Dollar, age 7 (treble)
Meg, dance hall entertainer (mz)
Silver Dollar (grown up) (mz)
Samantha, a maid (mz)
Saloon Girls
Baby Doe's Family (Mr. McCourt, his son, daughter & spouses)
2 Newboys (t)

Detailed Scene Breakdown

Act I

Scene 1

The story begins by commenting on the riches of the Matchless Mine and on how Horace Tabor owns the whole town of Leadville, Colorado. Horace sings "It's a Bang Up Job" to the townspeople, praising his new opera house and sharing his disenchantment with his wife Augusta. During intermission at a performance at the opera house, Augusta chides Horace for not acting in accordance to his station in life. Horace pleads with her not to insult the common people, equating the prostitutes' and bar girls' work to the work her committee did in helping build the opera house. Near the end of intermission, a woman arrives, introduces herself to Horace and asks if he could direct her to her hotel. He obliges her, and returns to the opera with Augusta.

Scene 2

Augusta retires for the evening, while Horace steps outside to smoke a cigar. He overhears two women speaking about the woman and learns that her name is Baby Doe, and that she has a husband in Central City. Horace hears Baby singing "The Willow Song" and applauds her—much to her surprise since she did not know he was listening. He sings "Warm as the Autumn Light" to her. Augusta's comments from upstairs stop the scene.

Scene 3

Several months later, Augusta goes through Horace's study and finds gloves and a love letter. She thinks they are for her until she finally realizes that they are for Baby Doe. The rumors have been true. Horace comes in, they fight and Horace says he never meant to hurt her.

Scene 4

Baby Doe, at the hotel, realizes she must end her relationship with Horace and tells the hotel workers to find out when the next train leaves for Denver. The hotel workers go to find Horace so he can head her off. She sings of her love for Horace in a letter to her mother (the "Letter Aria"). Augusta comes in and tells Baby to leave. She agrees, but pleads that she and Horace have done nothing they should be ashamed of ("I Knew It Was Wrong"). When Augusta leaves, Baby decides against leaving at the same time Horace comes in. They sing of their love.

Scene 5

A year later, Tabor has left Augusta and is living with Baby Doe. Her friends inform Augusta, now living in Denver, that Horace plans to divorce her. She swears to ruin him.

Scene 6

Horace and Baby Doe's wedding party in Washington DC. Baby's mother praises the couple's riches, but the society wives deride Baby Doe, but when the couple comes in they are well received. The debate turns to the silver standard and Baby Doe sings "Gold is a Fine Thing". Horace then presents Baby with Queen Isabella's diamond necklace. Baby Doe's mother tells the Roman Catholic priest about Baby and Horace's divorces—which he didn't know of. Scandal rocks the party, but is stopped when President of the United States Chester Arthur comes in and toasts the couple.

Act II

Act II chronicles the disintegration of Baby and Horace's riches. Augusta warns of the gold standard, but Horace doesn't listen. Horace politically backs William Jennings Bryan for president. When Bryan loses, Horace is abandoned by his party.

In the final scenes, Horace asks to see the opera house he built so long ago, though he no longer owns it. On the stage, he hallucinates and sees people from his past. Augusta both taunts and pleads with him. He is told that his one daughter will decry the name Tabor and that his other will become a prostitute. Distraught, he collapses. Baby Doe enters. After he is convinced that she is not a hallucination, he tells her nothing will come between them and begs her to remember him. He dies in her arms. In the last scene that takes place 30 years later, at the Matchless Mine, she finishes the opera with "Always Through the Changing."

696.jpg is a photo of The Ballad of Baby Doe

Length: 02:10
Total Acts: 2
Chorus: minimum 24 (includes bit parts)
Contact: Tams-Witmark Music Library, Inc.
Address: 560 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10022
Phone: 212-688-2525
Publisher Web Site:
Audio Visual Materials
Central City Opera

Schedule of Performances Listings
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Friday, July 25, 2014 - Chautauqua Opera
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Friday, April 13, 2012 - Opera Idaho
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Thursday, May 15, 2008 - Chelsea Opera
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Sunday, July 2, 2006 - Central City Opera
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Saturday, June 24, 2006 - Central City Opera
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Saturday, May 5, 2001 - Utah Symphony | Utah Opera
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Sunday, April 8, 2001 - New York City Opera
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Friday, November 17, 2000 - Indianapolis Opera
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Saturday, September 23, 2000 - San Francisco Opera
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Wednesday, November 17, 1999 - New Orleans Opera Association
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Wednesday, January 14, 1998 - Boston Lyric Opera
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Saturday, November 1, 1997 - Lyric Opera of Kansas City
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Friday, January 10, 1997 - Austin Opera
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Saturday, September 21, 1996 - Amarillo Opera
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Friday, July 19, 1996 - Chautauqua Opera
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Saturday, June 29, 1996 - Central City Opera
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Friday, April 19, 1996 - University of Wisconsin-Madison Opera
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Saturday, June 24, 1995 - Des Moines Metro Opera
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Friday, May 20, 1994 - Chicago Opera Theater
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Friday, April 15, 1994 - Indianapolis Opera
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Friday, April 3, 1992 - Opera Cleveland
The Ballad of Baby Doe (Moore)
Saturday, January 18, 1992 - Seattle Opera
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