April 26, 1959
Six Characters in Search of An Author
Composer:Hugo Weisgall
Librettist:Denis Johnston
Based on the early 20th century Italian absurdist play by Pirandello: A play-within-a-play is transformed by Johnston into an opera-within-an-opera. The libretto sets reality against theatrical illusion, offers pointed commentary, and satirizes operatic conventions. An opera is being rehearsed on the stage of a small theater. Six fictional characters -- mother, father, their son, and the mother's three illegitimate children (the stepdaughter, boy, and girl) -- interrupt the rehearsal. Claiming to belong to an unfinished opera, they are in search of an author to finish the drama for them. The current opera being rehearsed holds little interest for the director or performers, so they are easily persuaded to begin work on the unfinished opera. The director and company try to take control of the work, but the family, a profoundly and spectacularly dysfunctional group, insist the drama can only be told truthfully if they perform it themselves. This creates a rift between the emotionally-scarred fictional characters and the director and performers. Issues of guilt, incest, prostitution, murder, violence, and suicide are all played out by the fictional characters who are forever trapped in their own world.

Title Information

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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)

Number of Acts

Musical Style
Weisgall's earlier style fused non-tonal neo-classicism with the plasticity and fluidity of Berg's mature works. His later music is closest in style to the Second Viennese School, although his works are rarely completely atonal. Melodically and harmo

Vocal & Musical Forces
Cast of 24 (3 sopranos, 2 mezzos, 2 altos, 2 tenors, 3 baritones, 2 basses, 1 boy, 1 girl; including chorus of eight; spoken roles. Orchestration: 2222/2221/timpani, percussion, guitar, vibraphone, piano, celesta, strings.

Original Cast
Beverly Sills (coloratura soprano)
Grant Williams (tenore buffo)
John Macurdy (basso cantante)
Regina Sarfati (mezzo)
The Characters:
Paul Ukena (The Father)
Robert Trehey (The Son)
Adelaide Bishop (The Stepdaughter)
Patricia Neway (The Mother)
Ruth Kobart (Madame Pace)
Marc Sullivan (The Boy)
Barbara Becker (The Child)

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