Opera Notes


First Workshop

On July 12, 2001 the collaborators of Gertrude Stein Invents A Jump Early On presented their first workshop at the Friendship Heights Village Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland. This public workshop included a panel discussion between the collaborators and selected arias from Act I.

Over 150 people assembled at the Center to hear about the opera's development by its collaborators„composer William Banfield, dramaturge-artistic director Nancy Rhodes, and poet-librettist Karren Alenier„and to experience the first musical presentation of four arias drawn from Act I. The moderator Grace Cavalieri, a poet with over 20 years of public radio broadcast experience, welcomed the assembled group of Friendship Heights Villagers, artists of all genres, and other interested attendees and then switched the focus to a minute of introductory music„Gertrude's jump theme„ played by pianist and vocal coach Gillian Cookson.

The introductory remarks by the panelists included Bill scooting into Gillian's place at the piano so he could musically illustrate a point he was making about how his creative process works and Karren delivering a recitation of her playful poem "Leo on Seesaw." Nancy and Karren set up the time and place of Act I and made the introductions of the four accomplished singers: soprano Karin Paludan (Gertrude Stein), mezzo-soprano Daria Gerwig (Alice B. Toklas), tenor Paul McILvaine (Leo Stein), and baritone Lewis Freeman (Henri Rousseau). The arias sung included Gertrude's "Look at Me I Have Words," Leo's "She Makes a Fool of Me" (Leo was Gertrude's art critic brother), Alice's "Not Anyone Can Be Her Lover," and Gertrude's "Can You Take Me as I Am." Alice's song, which has a swinging Manhattan Transfer style, is an ensemble piece and included all four voices in parts of the song.

The formal portion of the program ran about 55 minutes and about 20-25 minutes more included an audience comment and question period. Montgomery Municipal Cable TV videoed the event. Two journalists Joe McLellan writing for www.redludwig.com and Neda Ulaby of Washington, DC's City Paper covered the event. Oral and written comments from most of the audience indicated that they liked what was presented, wanted to know more about the opera's progress, and would buy tickets to the New York City premiere.

The event was made possible by direct financial support from the Village Council of Friendship Heights, the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Maryland, William Banfield, The Word Works, and Clyde's of Chevy Chase.

Back to Opera Notes Alenier's Original Libretto Notes | Banfield's Response to Alenier's Original Libretto Notes | The First Workshop |The Second Workshop