February 20, 2018

Lady Bird: First Lady of the Land (2016)

Opera in 1 Act
Commissioned and first performed by Texas State University, Dr. Samuel Mungo, Opera Director

‘LADY BIRD: First Lady of the Land’, is a one-act opera based upon events in the life of first lady Lady Bird Johnson, the wife or Lyndon Baines Johnson. Due to the passing of the civil rights bill, President Johnson was at risk of not being elected to continue his presidency. His wife Lady Bird courageously campaigned for him across the Southern states on a special train tour, at times putting her own life in danger.

Libretto by Sheldon Harnick
Duration: 60 min
Full Orchestration:
for flute (piccolo), oboe, Bb Clarinet, Bassoon, 2 Horns in F, C Trumpet, Piano, Percussion (one player), and strings (minimum 43321)
Chamber orchestration (6 players):
Fl(pic), C-tpt, vln, vcl, pno, perc.
Scores in Preparation, available soon
(Filmed Performance: San Marcos State University, Directed by Dr. Samuel Mungo, conducted by Dr. Carolyn Watson)


“…Throughout, there was impressive choral work, courtesy of coach and chorus master Kristin Roach, which did justice to Mollicone’s vibrant scoring. The finale is an eloquent, multi-voice anthem with Lady Bird’s soaring solo mirrored by choristers singing about how they will wage a war on poverty, create a great society, and beautify the land. Politics aside, it was irresistible, especially with the final drop depicting the real Lady Bird in a vast field of bluebonnets…”

“…It’s an ideal means of introducing Mollicone’s delightfully variegated score, a mélange of styles that blur boundaries among classical, jazz, and musical theater. The vocal writing is tuneful, the orchestrations vivid, often harmonically piquant. Another of his scores, Children of the Sun, about the Virgin of Guadalupe, had its premiere in 2013 by Texas State Opera at Austin’s McCallum Fine Arts Academy.
“Harnick’s libretto is equally expressive, filled with wit and provocative imagery. This was the second collaboration between the pair, the first being Coyote Tales in 1998 for Kansas City Lyric Opera. Mollicone is best known for The Face on the Barroom Floor, which was written in 1978 for Central City Opera and continues to run each summer. Harnick is, of course, the Pulitzer and Tony award-winning lyricist of such Broadway musicals as Fiorello!, She Loves Me, and Fiddler on the Roof, the last two of which have been nominated for 2016 Tony awards in the Best Revival of a Musical category…”