Opera in 1 Act
Libretto by Kate Pogue
Lyric Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, 2 Tenors, Baritone, Bass-Baritone
Flute (Pic), Clarinet, Horn, Violin, Cello, String Bass, Piano, Percussion (2 players)
Watch film of the Opera:
The scene is a summer evening in New York City. A dog, a cat, and a donkey each thrown out of home and work, meet by chance in Central Park , criticizing one another — the cat for her sly agility, the dog for his craven dependence, the donkey for his dull-witted strength — each determined to go away on his own to find a new life.
As night falls, however, they sleep. They are awakened by the landing of a space ship. Despite the warnings of the Starbird, the animals board the ship, hoping it will take them to their new lives.
Two robots appear and entrap the animals. The Starbird tells them of the horrors of outer space and the animals beg her to help them escape. She rescues them by utilizing their disparaged qualities — the dog’s attractiveness, the donkey’s strength, the cat’s agility. Persuading them to see each other’s faults as virtues, the Starbird takes the animals home. They go off together to a new life on earth as the Starbird disappears into endless space.
“The TOT performances were the most engaging of the week. Starbird is a fetching space-age children’s fable that tells how three quarreling animals are taught by an alien starbird to appreciate each other… The children in the audience loved Starbird, and so did the adults. Mollicone should go far; he can’t seem to write a note that doesn’t sing.”
— NEWSWEEK – Annalyn Swan.
“…The other two works of Premier Week, Henry Mollicone ‘s one-acters, Starbird and The Face on the Barroom Floor, were unpretentious fun with more than a touch of convincing sentiment… Mollicone’s personality and his eupeptic wit are already more important than his various stylistic debts, which include the Broadway of Bernstein and Sondheim, a bit of disco, and figures like Prokofiev, Satie and Copland… Starbird, with a lively libretto by Kate Pogue, is funny for both children and adults… Mollicone is without question an operatic talent to watch with an infallible sense of dramatic pace and tension.”
— THE GUARDIAN, LONDON – Tom Sutcliffe
“Texas Opera Theater’s contribution was Henry Mollicone’s Starbird… Mollicone’s fluent, pop-flavored score was both ingratiating and sophisticated, a la Bernstein.”
— OPERA NEWS – Scott F. Heumann
“Monday evening, Texas Opera Theater staged Mollicone’s delightful modern children’s fable, Starbird… Mollicone’s score also shows that he knows how to expand a musical idea creatively, indicating that he does indeed have the gift to be an opera composer.”
— THE HOUSTON POST – Carl Cunningham
“The story, the imaginative sets (particularly the spaceship with its flashing lights), and the very attractive and expressive musical score are all designed to delight young people and draw them easily into the opera experience.”
— MUSICAL AMERICA – Charles B. Fowler
“…I found myself consistently involved with proper admiration for the whole piece’s three levels: the Pogue libretto which delivers the points with nimble economy; Mollicone’s accessible score; and the ingenious setting come costumes which are realized without fuss or muss… Mollicone’s music is a happy blend with sneaky little melodies reaching out from a base that is contemporary.”
— STILLWATER (OKLA.) NEWS-PRESS – James C. Stratton
Score and materials are available from ECS Publishing.