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Music Sheets and a Cross

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Elisha and the Bears (2014, cl., 2 pcn., pno.,vln., and opera cast), subtitled "An Obnoxious Operetta in One Swift Act," is one of three proposed operettas in a trilogy. The duration is approximately 12 minutes. The libretto, by Stephanie Block, is based on the following biblical passage:

23 He went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go away, baldhead! Go away, baldhead!” 24 When he turned around and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. 25 From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and then returned to Samaria. [2 Kings 2:23-25]

There are far too many references, inside jokes and outside jokes as well, in the score to list here. Sacred references largely fall into the category of Byzantine Catholic current practice and include but are not limited to the reciting and reading tones of the character of the Priest and sometimes those of his parishioners (congregants) in this miniature operetta. Since current practice drills the pitch-class F into the minds of the priests and seminarians (and therefore the cantors, choirs, and congregants), the operetta’s pitch center is most obnoxiously centered on F, ad nauseum. Slight forays to centricity below (leading-tone) and above (G) as well as the natural minor are indulged in but only in relation to an F pitch center than remains insistent in conformity with current church practice. Several chant melodies (Prostopinije) that are normally reserved for singing sacred verses in practice are utilized in the operetta, most notably by the She Bears (who after all are only seeking their daily bread). Popular references also abound so that the listener who hears classical composers, popular song, or noted or unnoted rock to punk rock melodies will not be in error.

Elisha and the Bears Program Notes and Libretto
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