Libretto by Edwin Denby (E)
2S,A,2T,Bar,B,3adult speakers; mixed chorus
glsp/xyl/tgl/tam-t-pft-musical saw(or theremin)-strings
At The Playhouse, 466 Grand Street, New York, NY
Orson Welles, director / Music School of the Henry Street Settlement / Lehman Engel
In the years following the Great Depression, artists turned to socialist ideals of reaching the Masses. Copland was no exception. When the Henry Street Settlement Music School asked for an opera for children, he was eager to face a new challenge. "There's a certain excitement in hearing your music sung and played by an enthusiastic group of youngsters that no highly trained organization of grown-up professionals can produce," Copland wrote. He chose his friend, the noted dance critic and poet Edwin Denby to write the libretto. They created a simple and natural stage work that American youngsters could relate to in their lives using their own language. Hurricane has a simple plot with a moral. It tells the story of high school students stranded in a hurricane learning tolerance, courage and the spirit of freedom in a time of danger. For the premiere in 1937, a young Orson Welles was responsible for the staging. The opera has had several productions through the years, among them a staging by Leonard Bernstein in Boston in 1942, and his version for television in 1960.
(Vivian Perlis, 1998)