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Music Text

Libretto by Gertrude Stein (E)


2S,M,T,Bar; pft

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes

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

World Premiere
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Conductor: Henry Butler
Company: Temple University


JENNY Soprano
HELEN Soprano
ELLEN Mezzo Soprano
Time and Place

time and place not specified


In this surreal, non-linear murder mystery, three sisters (who are not sisters) and two brothers (who are brothers) decide to play a game of murder. The five are first seen sleeping. They awaken and the game begins. The scene darkens. The lights return, and the stage is empty except for the murdered Sylvester. Later, Jenny wakes from a nap to find Sylvester dead.  Then she finds Helen’s corpse. Samuel enters, dressed as a policeman. The lights go out. When they come back on only Jenny remains on stage. She hides under the bed. Samuel returns looking for someone to kill. He hides when he hears Ellen come in. He surprises her as the lights go out. When the lights return, Ellen is dead. Samuel creeps back into the room and attacks Jenny. She kicks him in the temple, and he sings an aria as he dies. Enthusiastic applause is heard. The voices of all five are heard in the darkness. When the light returns, they are as they were at the beginning. They wonder: are we dead or did we act it? Jenny interrupts their singing and announces it is time to go to sleep.



Recommended Recording

Andrea Matthew, Carol Flamm, Madeline Tsingopoulos, Frederick Urrey, Mark Singer, John Van Buskirk, Ray Evans Harrell
Newport Classics NPD 85594

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