THE TRUTH ABOUT CINDERELLA
Song Cycle #1
For Mezzo Soprano and Four Instruments
|Music by Christopher Fulkerson
Text by Roger Mitchell
Hans Werner Henze, a Liederabend for whom
To See the Video of the World Premiere Performance, with Choreography by Gary Palmer, CLICK HERE
The engraved score of this piece is 29 pages long. Hard copy of the score is $10. The recording is $5. The DVD of the dance concert presentation is $15.
To go to CF's Principal Works page, CLICK HERE. More links are below.
Leonardo da During the summer of 1988 that I spent as a Composer Fellow at the Tanglewood Festival, Oliver Knussen, who was running the Festival's Contemporary Music program, decided that the class should present a Liederabend as a good-bye event for the composer in residence, Hans Werner Henze. Hans had been well-liked by the class; he was a delightful raconteur, an urbane conversationalist, and he was a terrific host, who brought his own outstanding Italian chef to the festival. The Liederabend was to be given at Serenak, Koussevitsky's mansion up the hill from the Music Center, where most of the composer fellows stayed. Of course we all loved this idea and took it very seriously. Olie asked us to get Hans' approval for any texts we might set. As usual I had come armed with plenty of poetry, and already had in mind the poem Cinderella, in four sections, by the Midwestern poet Roger Mitchell, to set as soon as I could get to it. After reading the poem Hans succinctly declaired the Mitchell poem "perfect." (This project is mentioned at the beginning of Chapter 15 of Henze's Autobiography, Bohemian Fifths. Our meetings were quite enjoyable and useful, but if they were the "seminars on lieder writing" that he mentions, they were the most casual seminars I've ever attended, and there was no attempt to organize the whole class for involvement in them together.) When I am given a fighting chance, which means, when I am given time to compose, I write quickly; I wrote the whole song cycle in a week, using the time for nothing else, and coached a member of Jane Curtain's vocal seminar to sing its first song; I played the accompaniment on the piano. The cycle was written in August of 1988 and is six minutes long.
THE TRUTH ABOUT CINDERELLA is a setting, for mezzo soprano with two clarinets, viola, and guitar, of an "alternative history" of the familiar ashblond stepsister. In an atmosphere of stinging, dark wit, it depicts the stages of the heroine's development from barnyard girl, to sad survivalist, to competitor with her beautiful stepsisters, to tearless widow of a less than Prince Charming. For this gallow-humor text I have chosen an appropriate "Neo-Classical" style which, without departing from my native idiom, depicts the text in a set of four proportional variations: an hysterical Siciliano, serene Arioso, frantic Perpetual Motion, and a stoic dissolving Aria.
Each song is dedicated to a friend or pair of friends who helped me in one way or another to finance my trip that very pleasant summer:
This piece was choreographed by Gary Palmer for his Dance Company and given at San Francisco's Theater Artaud on February 21, 23, and 25, 1990. Lynne Morrow sang, and CF led the ensemble. Ariel Parkinson did the set and costume design. A video of this performance is available. A recording is also available.
The Truth About Cinderella
I. When they found her prostrate in the garden,
There it was spiders. For them, she danced
Nothing could shame her. Tied to a hog trough,
At dawn, a sow lay sleeping against her.
She tried to nurse a calf, so they killed it.
She would leave all this someday. But for now
II. When she left, she put a tear in a sack
The frog in her palm collected itself
She would leap like that if she had to.
She followed the ant and the low shrub,
III. The sisters, naturally, were beautiful.
She knocked on the back door, twice, begging for food.
One of them threw her a shoe, the other
They smiled their smiles in the right places,
The boys in the village, though, hung out their toungues
She was a broom dressed as a shawl, crouching.
IV. He was not a prince. He was not even rich.
There was no ball, there was no slipper,
Someone else would think of these things:
the indoor bliss and the irreversable
the impossible, degrading splendor,
She wept at the woodcutter's death,
She never went back. She didn't need to,