Music in the Theater

I’m writing this from Washington, DC, where I’ve just seen and heard a new production of Coyote Builds North America, one of my two music theater works with writer Barry Lopez. Coyote was premiered in 1987 at Perseverance Theater. Since then, it’s been produced two other times, touring throughout Alaska and New England. Until now, […]

The Form Without a Name: American Music Theater

Barry DroginPhoto by Lindsay Drogin Here’s a frustrating parlor game: Come up with a term for the form that includes the operas of Gian Carlo Menotti, the musicals of Leonard Bernstein, the dance-theater of Meredith Monk, the music-theater of Robert Ashley, and such hard to classify works as Porgy and Bess, Four Saints in Three […]

In your opinion, what is the difference between opera and musical theater?

Stephen Sondheim“…opera is musical theater that takes place in an opera house in front of an opera audience…” Jack Beeson“…In musicals, all the words…are to be understood. Opera audiences…are awed when…they understand an English libretto, and forget to watch the supertitles…” Philip Glass“…Basically, I don’t care what you call it…” Elizabeth Swados“I don’t think those […]

Soundtracks: April 2001

The relationship between music and theater has always been controversial – and productive. On one end of the spectrum are pieces in which text is obviously or completely dominant. Though there are no solely text-based pieces in this month’s new discs — if you want one, try Randy Hostetler’s Happily Ever After, featured in the […]

In your opinion, what is the difference between opera and musical theater? Jack Beeson, Composer

Jack BeesonPhoto by Dietrich Dettmann, courtesy Boosey & Hawkes Surrounded by Columbia composers, faculty and students, Stephen Sondheim was asked, “Since a couple of your musicals have been performed in opera houses, why don’t you write a real opera?” Answer: “Because I don’t like their audiences.” Then he asked, “Why don’t you write musicals, Jack?” […]