Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Brazilian - Opera-Bouffe en Un Acte

peter HILLIARD, composer
matt BORESI, librettist

Premiere: October 22, 2004 – Manhattan Opera Theatre & The French Institute/Alliance Francais, (co-production) New York City

Adapted from the play Le Brésilien by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy (1863)
Created as a companion to Le Docteur Miracle by Georges Bizet, Ludovic Halévy and Léon Battu (1857)

(pictured) Giuseppe Spoletini, baritone, and Alex Richardson, tenor,
as Guy Carteblanche and Brad Shillwell/Don Diego Zarzuela in the World Premiere of The Brazilian.

What is The Brazilian?

A one act opéra-bouffe in the style of the chamber works performed in the 1860s at Jacques Offenbach’s theatre, the Bouffes Parisiens, Hilliard and Boresi’s The Brazilian infuses the tuneful, playful tone of French operetta with contemporary melody and humor to create a satire of the modern opera world that moves at the break-neck farcical pace of Feydeau.

The Brazilian is an Opéra Bouffe in every sense of the term. From the delicately filigreed accompaniment to the Couplets, Triolets, Rondeaus and Scénes that are the hallmarks of the form; from the hilarious stock characters and situations of French farce to the irreverent spoofing of more serious operatic conventions, Hilliard and Boresi’s sixth opera marries the verve and excitement of Offenbach with the most sophisticated modern compositional techniques. Extremely challenging on many levels, the piece is a musical roller coaster ride through wild coloratura, languid Habanera, potent Bossa-nova and Samba, ravishing fin-de-siècle French harmony, and infectious ensemble. It is a musical confection that will reward performer and audience alike.

At the Paris Light Opera Works (Paris, Illinois), soprano Helen LaBelle tells Artistic Administrator Janeane that she carries a torch for producer/director Guy Carteblanche. Carteblanche’s ideas of romance, however, have been shaped by his fixation with the trappings of the French stage – He is unable to love a woman unless he must first woo her away from an insanely jealous Latin lover! To land Carteblanche, LaBelle enlists the help of the zealous tenor Brad Shillwell, who poses as her explosive Brazilian beau, Don Diego Zarzuela. Meanwhile, Helen’s lusty soprano rival, Caresse Decolletage, seeks to unravel their charade and seduce Don Diego in the process.

As the dueling sopranos rehearse a production of Pierre Debacle’s Le Grande Chanteuse du Alsace Lorraine, Brad/Don Diego pursues Guy through the opera house, whipping him into a romantic fervor. Brad and Helen’s ruse is accidently uncovered, but Guy is so impressed by the lengths to which Helen has gone to pique his interest, that he falls madly in love, and gives Brad the role he wanted in Chanteuse, while the put-upon Janeane tricks Caresse into heading to Brazil to star in a non-existent production of the same piece. Pleased with the outcome, the ensemble sings a pæan to their chaotic lives and to opera-bouffe itself.

Friday, November 19, 2004


Helen LaBelle – a singer, particularly of French repertoire
Coloratura Soprano
Guy Carteblanche – General Director of the Paris Light Opera Works
BasseTaille/Lyric Baritone
Caresse Decolletage – a notoriously lusty singer, Helen’s rival
Coloratura Soprano
Brad Shillwell – a young tenor, ambitious to a fault
Tenore di Grazia/Tenor-Bouffe
Janeane Clarke – a level-headed artistic administrator
Speaking Role

Projected Orchestration:
1 Flute, 1 Oboe, 1 Clarinet, 1 Bassoon, 1 French Horn, 2 trumpets, 1 trombone, 1 percussionist, 1 Harp, onstage piano, Violin I (3 players) Violin 2 (3 players) Viola (2 players) Cello, Double Bass,

Running Time: One Hour, 10 minutes