Charles Shere: I Like It to Be a Play


tenor, baritone, bass, and string quartet

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score: 24 pages, available from Frog Peak Music

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I Like It to Be a Play is a chamber opera, about twelve minutes long, exploring the psychological and musical nuances of Gertrude Stein's milieu — the cultured, literary set of liberated women and leisurely men in the first decade of the twentiety century. Plot, setting, and scenario are not supplied in Stein's text.
I imagine three men sitting comfortably in a drawing room, on a summer evening, after supper, in a villa in Palma de Mallorca, in 1911 or 1912. They have just been watching the action of Ladies Voices, a companion opera to this piece. A string quartet is playing upstage.
The Tenor, in his mid-twenties, drinking tea, is a bit simple, eager to please, stylish. The Baritone, in his late thirties, drinking brandy and soda, is a military man, quick to awwert himself, a bit of a dandy. The Bass, in his late forties, drinking port, is philosophical, a bit cynical, but conciliatory and good-humored.
The music of this opera lies somewhere between the opening sextet of Strauss's Capriccio and the waltzes and tangos of a salon orchestra.
The opera was commissioned by the Noh Oratorio Society, who gave the premiere in San Francisco, February 1989. It is dedicated to the memory of Claude Duval.

The score and parts were published with a cover illustration by Andrew Romanov in 1996 by Fallen Leaf Press, ISSN 8755-2698.
Available from Frog Peak Music . Sound recording available from Vibedeck.
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rev. 9/15/00