"Fourscore" traces the tangled courtships of four pairs of lovers. It unfolds in four households, each of which is under dominance of one of the classic temperaments. Each family group consists of father, marriageable daughter and son. The fathers each plan to have their daughters wed old school chums of their own temperaments. Naturally, each of the young ladies is attracted to the son of opposing temperament from across the hall.
James Chrimcutt, barber and intriguer, contests with Ovida Tipsyhips, gifted in palmistry and match-making, in variously obstructing true love and aiding it to win the day, all this in a break-neck extravaganza of intrigue, subterfuge, disguise and outlandish buffoonery, the complexities of which might appear to render the Figaro opera plots simple by comparison.
The Bounce-Bubbly family, including their maid and dad's boyhood chum, are sung by high voices. Their sanguinity is musically symbolized by the major triad - mainly the cheery E and A major of Mendelssohn. The Weep household are medium voices, favoring the minor mode and melodically given to the descending minor seventh, interval of death and despair. The always angry Immergrumps are high, strident voices and belong to the area of the diminished triad (often adumbrated with added choleric dissonance), while the phlegmatic low-range Hohums, regularly falling asleep mid-phrase, are colored by augmented triad goo.
As for the intriguers, the barberly baritone of Chrimcutt is backed by a torrent of Rossini, while Tipsyhips' contralto is backed by brazen quotations from Carmen, Trovatore and other gypsyisms.
Suffice it to say that the opera, featuring twenty family leads, two intriguants and a scattering of minor characters, ends happily as a total of nine couples is chaotically joined in holy matrimony - this to the interwoven wedding marches of Mendelssohn and Wagner.
fl & alto; fl, alto & picc; ob, ob & Eng hrn; cl & Eb cl; cl & alto sax; 2 bns; tpt in Bb & D; 3 hrn, tuba; 4 perc, hp, synthesizer simulating harpsichord and harmonium; mandolin, ukelele, zither (1 player); accordeon, mouth harmonica; Strings 6-6-4-4-3 minimum.
The opera is full-length, each act lasting an hour. Idiom is shamelessly neo-classic.
Harold Blumenfeld's three operas, "Seasons in Hell", "Fourscore - an Opera of Opposites" and "Breakfast Waltzes" - all to libretti by collaborator
Charles Kondek - are published, along with the composer's other works, by MMB Music Inc, 3526
Washington Ave., St. Louis MO 63103. FAX 314 531-8384.
Blumenfeld is represented by Friedman/Goetz Associates, 11 Worth St, New York NY 10013, FAX 212 226-6788, e-mail FGASSOC@aol.com
Materials may be secured from Friedman/Goetz, from MMB Music Inc, and may be consulted at the American Music Center, New York.
All works © Copyright MMB Music, Inc.