Notes for Songs

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The Gipsy Prince by Thomas Moore and Michael Kelly, Edited By Frederick Burwick
TEI

The Gipsy Prince
Notes on the Musical Score

Recording cast (June 20, 2009, Balch Auditorium, Scripps College)

  • Stephen Pu Musical Director

  • Ian Martyn Gipsy Prince
  • Michael Elliott Rincon
  • Stephen Pu Don Roderick (the Inquisitor)
  • Michael Elliott Don Dominick (the Corrigidor)

  • Sarah Harrell Antonia
  • Jenna Pinkham Poppee
  • Autumn Burdick Lachimee

    • Gipsies, Peasants, Aguazil; Chorus
    • Sarah Harrell, Jenna Pinkham Sopranos
    • Autumn Burdick, Gemma Levine Altos
    • Ian Martyn, Michael Elliott Tenors
    • James Burdick, Leo Martyn Basses

  • Yuko Shiina, Stephen Pu Pianists

Overture (Stephen Pu)

An opening "Pastorale" establishes a calm beginning, with a few sudden changes in rhythm. The ensuing "Allegro" repeats the five-note motif AAADA mimicking the signal whistle used by the whiteboys (Buachaillí Bána) to provoke the British troops to a nocturnal chase through the brambles. Agitating for tenant farmer land rights, the whiteboys donned white smocks in their nightly raids which they would then remove when they had lured the soldiers far into the brush or marsh. The chase is conjured in the relentlessly continuous motion of the overture. At times, the music calls for comical, loud-then-quiet contrast. At other points, it calls for a full-bodied sound. The overture ends with repeated, almost relentless iterations of D Major, the piece's tonal center. This overture is designed to show off the virtuoso skills of a pianoforte player.

Happy the Heart that love has blest (Chorus, Michael Elliott)

Kelly's characteristic closeness to a tonal center appears again in this pleasant chorus. Deliberately detached rhythms set to the text "their joys shall soften" contrast with previously connected melodic lines. The notation in the solo portion includes no beams to connect notes, thus encouraging shorter, detached singing.

I remember (Michael Elliott)

Moore, who composed the music as well as lyrics to Rincon's solo, introduces here chromatic tones that expand the melodic and harmonic possibilities from what was previously practiced on the London stage. Remarkably, Moore chooses to stay close to his original tonal center, even while using chromatic tones. The strangeness of the chromatic tones matches the oddness of the character who sings a violent, humorous text. This song is a rare instance of the through-composed, non-strophic song.

Bleak rains may fall (Stephen Pu, Michael Elliot, Ian Martyn, James Burdick)

Expertly crafted harmonies provide continuity in this quartet. Slower, drawn out lines are juxtaposed with fast, spritely rhythms, and a feel of close ensemble is maintained throughout.

I’ve roam’d thro’ many a wearied round (Ian Martyn)

Marked “Rondo Andante,” this song evokes a dance. Lilting rhythms and imitative structures give the song a predictable structure, while ornaments in the vocal part showcase the technical capacity of the singer.

Sweet oh sweet (Trio: Sarah Harrell, Stephen Pu, Michael Elliott )

Lyrical lines in the soprano part combine with admiring sighs from the tenor, and this is set against a complaining baritone part comprised of short, exclamatory protests. The charm of this song lies in the combination of characters and their independent moods.

Good Night, good Night (Duet: Sarah Harrell and Ian Martyn)

This is one of Kelly’s love duets. The two voices sing one verse each before combining in close harmony. A tender lilt in the song evokes the spirit of a lullaby.

Where Gipsey gone? (Duet: Jenna Pinkham and Autumn Burdick, with Chorus)

In this song, Kelly entertains the notion that gipsy music is lighthearted, even frivolous, in spite of serious threats or hardships. Onomatopoetic devices, like “Hush hush hush hum” inform the performance, even in the absence of dynamic markings in the score.

In the name and glory of the Inquisitory (Double Chorus)

A military beginning for men’s chorus is answered by a round for four soprano gipsy parts. Imitative structures abound between the two choruses. Even though the melodic material appears similar between the choruses, the words leave no doubt as to what each chorus is doing.

Yes now I shall think (Sarah Harrell)

A lyrical melodic line is infused with opportunities to show off a lead soprano in this solo. The case in point is a high G with a fermata on the second syllable of the word “exclaim,” which, in the second verse, falls on the first syllable of “fortunes.”

O me was born to wander (Jenna Pinkham)

Here again, Kelly entertains the predisposition for gipsy music to be lighthearted and fanciful. What would otherwise be a sad story of a faithless lover is juxtaposed with a fast and cheerful “fa la la,” and a phrase of playful nonsense text.

Before I fall to kissing you (Duet: Jenna Pinkham, Michael Elliott)

A lecherous man pursues a gipsy girl for a kiss in this song of outright rejection. Kelly makes use again of onomatopoetic devices: the hissing “iss” and the contemptuous “poh."

Oh! in pity hear me suing (Trio: Sarah Harrell, Michael Elliott, and Ian Martyn)

“Agitato” is the directive for this song, which is also the only song in the production to begin in a minor mode. Repetition of words and juxtaposition of contrasting characters comes to the fore again as all three voices sing together on different words: “hush,” “here,” and “help.”

Yes! for thee too charming Stranger (Duet: Sarah Harrell and Ian Martyn)

Another love duet features close harmonies sung on similar texts, set to identical rhythms. Marked “Largo,” sighing motifs indicate the lovers' feelings, further emphasized by the piano’s supporting role.

The Gipsy Prince no more shall roam (Chorus)

One last time, lighthearted music is sung by a chorus of gipsies. Dynamic contrasts highlight, from one phrase to the next, the difference between quiet excitement and rapturous joy, fitting of a happy ending.

Published @ RC

October 2012

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