Four Saints in Three Acts. Program for the first performance, signed by Thomson
Quarto. Original pink wrappers with titling in dark gold within black lace-patterned border to upper, advertisements to inner wrappers, list of benefactors, donors, and contributors to verso of lower.
24 pp., incorporating verse by Richard Crashaw "Upon the Book and Picture of the Seraphical Saint Teresa" with full-page illustration of Saint Teresa in Ecstasy by Bernini; a reproduction of a portrait of Gertrude Stein by Christian Bérard; a reproduction of the autograph musical manuscript of Thomson's "Musical Portrait of Gertrude Stein;" an essay by Stein entitled "Portrait of Virgil Thomson;" "head shots" of Stein, Thomson, Austin, Smallens, Ashton, Grosser, Houseman and 8 cast members including Beatrice Robinson Wayne, Edward Matthews, Bruce Howard, Embry Bonner, Altonell Hines, Abner Dorsey, Bertha Fitzhugh Baker, and Eva Jessye.
With Thomson's autograph signature in black ink to centerfold program dated 1986 along with that of the creator of the scenario, Maurice Grosser.
Slightly worn and soiled; occasional light staining; minor creasing to corners.
Thomson met Gertrude Stein in Paris in 1926 and she soon became his close friend and collaborator. Four Saints in Three Acts, Thomson's groundbreaking opera, is set to a libretto by Stein; the two also collaborated on Thomson's opera The Mother of Us All, first performed in 1947.
"The first performance [of "Saints"], on 8 February 1934 at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, was presented not by an established opera company but by an organization called the Friends and Enemies of Modern Music. There was an all-black cast, stage direction and movement by Frederick Ashton and John Houseman and cellophane décor by Florine Stettheimer. The same production was presented that year on Broadway and in Chicago, for a run of more than 60 performances." John Rockwell in Grove Music Online
"The premiere attracted the smart set of art patrons, fanciers of the avant garde and the curious. After the triumphant Hartford run, the production moved to Broadway where it played for six weeks at first one then another theater, a breakthrough for an opera. This was a year before Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, which was also conducted by Alexander Smallens and featured a black cast.
Decades later, Philip Glass would cite Four Saints as the most important model that he and Robert Wilson had when they embarked on writing avant-garde operas.
"[Thomson] produced a sizeable catalog of stylistically diverse compositions characterized by expressive directness and textural transparency, written in a language that drew from hymnbook harmony, popular song, and dance idioms of the late 19th century, and utilizing plain-spoken tonal procedures but also diatonic dissonance and polytonal elements. In his many vocal works, and his two path-breaking operatic collaborations with Gertrude Stein, Thomson demonstrated a mastery of prosody. ... The wit, vitality, and descriptive precision of his writing, which demystified the complexities of music for lay readers, made him among the most influential and lasting critics of the 20th century." Anthony Tommasini and Richard Jackson in Grove Music Online.
Price: $500.00 other currencies