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Caldwell, Mary E

A Gift of Song (1961)

Duration: 65 minutes
A family Christmas opera in three scenes with interludes

Libretto by the composer (E)

3S,M,T,2Bar; mixed chorus 1(=picc).1.2.1- sleigh bells/t.bells-harp-pft-strings.
Abbreviations (PDF).

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere
Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Pasadena, California
Company: Pasadena Symphony


Karl Franz Felix, 12 year old son of the composer of "Silent Night"Soprano (adult)
Annalisa, Karl Franz's older sisterSoprano
Papa Gruber, in his middle 60'sBaritone
Mama GruberMezzo-Soprano
Chormeister Wilhelm, choir director at St. Peter's Monastery (early 20's)Tenor
Herr Chormeister Doktor Geheimrat Professor Von SchmallplatzBaritone
Rudi, choirboy at St. Peter'sSoprano (adult)
Pagespeaking role
Chorus (6-18 choirboys and Villagers)

Time and Place
1853, Hallein and Salzburg, Austria

Karl Franz Gruber readies himself to attend a choir school in Salzburg. Before leaving, his mother asks him to sing Papa Gruber’s Christmas song: She is afraid Karl will forget the song once he is at school. He sings “Silent Night” for his mother. Once at choir school, the group of boys is told that the musical ambassador from the King of Prussia is soon to arrive. The pompous ambassador, von Schmallplatz, arrives in search of a Christmas song whose composer the King is anxious to find. After the boys are dismissed, von Schmallplatz shows choirmaster Wilhelm a copy of the song, which is none other than Gruber’s “Silent Night.”  The boys are assembled to learn the new song and much comedy ensues. Soon, Karl is in trouble and his Christmas privileges are revoked. Left alone in disgrace, Karl begins to sing his father’s song and is overheard by the choirmaster. Wilhelm immediately travels to the Gruber home with Karl. The choirmaster asks Papa if he can find the original of the song, but is told it is lost. As the audience and cast begin to sing “Silent Night,” Papa begins to write down the music to his song.

Comic, Poetic

Society, Music/Arts

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