May 14, 1981 | San Francisco Opera
Emperor Norton
Composer:Henry Mollicone
Librettist:John S. Bowman
Synopsis
Diana and Michael arrive at a theater to audition for a play about Emperor Norton and are interrupted by the arrival of Marla, the play's author. Since her play is unfinished, Marla is astonished by their claims to have been invited to audition. She decides to use their talents anyway to work out several of the more difficult scenes in the play. The play opens with Emperor Norton's death on a San Francisco Street. A man emerges from the wings, dressed as a 19th-century emperor and protests that the scene does not resemble reality. He proceeds to restage the scene casting Marla as an older woman who places a wedding ring on the dying Norton. Marla becomes angry with the intruder for imposing his concept of Norton. The next scene is a meeting betweeen Norton and Lola Montez. Lola performs her Spider Dance, and Norton duels to defend her honor. The intruder enters and once again denounces the scene as inaccurate. He convinces Marla to allow him to restage his version which becomes a church wedding, in which Marla portrays the bride. During this scene, Diana and Michael come to realize that this intruder seems to know a lot more about Emperor Norton's life and they demand that he reveal his secrets. The final scene is set by the intruder and takes place on a dock in San Francisco. The intruder is now Joshua Norton, Michael is Captain Macondry, and Marla is his daughter, Julie. Norton enters with Julie searching for her father to inform him of their coup on the rice market and to receive his blessing for their impending marriage. Macondry crushes their financial dreams by announcing his own rice market monopoly and demands that Norton abandon his dreams of marrying his daughter. Through these scenes, Diana, Michael, and Marla come to understand the Emperor Norton and how he created a realm of fantasy to escape the miseries of his own life. Marla, totally entranced by Norton, demands that they go back and restage the scene on the dock. She and Norton return to that scene, and she joins him, the Empress to his Emperor, in the realm of fantasy, spirit, art, and love.

Title Information

All information is derived from OPERA America's Season Schedule of Performances and titles databases which date back to 1991. OPERA America is constantly updating this data. If you feel that a work or an artist has been omitted or that information is incorrect, please use the linked forms below.
Title Information Form
Artist Information Form

Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)
00:55

Musical Style
Lyrical; post-romantic in the style of Richard Strauss

Vocal & Musical Forces
Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Baritone; Piano, violin, cello

Original Cast
Original Cast: Diana, Evelyn de la Rosa; Michael, William Pell; Marla, Leslie Richards; Norton, Thomas Woodman


THE ORGANIZATION RESOURCES
THE NATIONAL OPERA CENTER EVENTS FACILITIES AND SERVICES
BECOME A MEMBER MEMBER OPPORTUNITIES
SUPPORT OPERA AMERICA
RESOURCES
To have your company’s photos included in the header rotation, send photos that are at least 1200px wide and 550px tall to Webmaster@operaamerica.org. Please note that submission of photos does not guarantee inclusion.
All OPERA America facilities are handicapped accessible. The National Opera Center features ground-level entry with elevators to the venue. All spaces are wheelchair accessible, and modular seating can be arranged to accommodate wheelchair users for all programs and performances. Handicapped accessible restrooms are available on all floors.
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212.796.8620 • Fax: 212.796.8621
Info@operaamerica.org

Privacy PolicyReturns Policy
Financial Statements
© Copyright 1995-2017 OPERA America Inc.

Technical issue with the website? Let us know.