Opera & Music Theatre Works

Works for the operatic or theatrical stage: full-length & one act, many suitable for either.

 
 

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HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (Revised 2018)

Libretto by Elizabeth Bassine.  Winner of the Michael Mayer Director’s Choice Award, Mainstreet Musicals, 2015.  

Adapted from the novel of the same name, by Richard Llewellyn, HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY is the story of South Wales in the early 20th century – and of a large family of indomitable spirit. In this story, we follow Huw, age 9 and the youngest of the Morgans, as he struggles to reconcile his love for home with anguished questions about the formidable forces of change in the mining industry, an oppressive Church, his deteriorating family, and the marginalization of the Welsh as the British Empire meets the Industrial Age.

Orchestration:  16 players. Cast minimum: 24

Duration:  2 hours, 30 minutes

Recordings: Roger Ames on Sound Cloud, Main Street Musicals. Featuring: Long Island Masterworks Chorus, Frances Roberts, conductor; Jennifer Baldwin Pedin, soprano; Michael Hume, tenor; Bradley Greenwald, Baritone; Bill Gross, Baritone; Tim Jerome, Bass.


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NO PARKING:  Letting Go, Moving On (2017)

Libretto by Elizabeth Bassine.  

Alice is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and her daughter Sara puts her in a nursing home.  The struggle of transitions, accompanied by a humorous and touching tale of how Alice adapts to her new friends (and enemies), brings the worlds of Alice, her daughter, and the Matron of the unit full circle, to ‘letting go and moving on.’  

Production pending, with a Knight Foundation Grant for the Nautilus Music-Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota. Ben Krywosz, directing.

Duration: 110 minutes

Full song samples available from rogerwames@gmail.com

Recordings feature: Joan Barber, Mezzo Soprano; Reneé Claire Bergeron, Mezzo Soprano; Rebecca Luker, Soprano; Doug Shapiro, Baritone; Tim Jerome, Bass.


Cast of the NY, Kennedy Center Showcase: AMARANTHA

AMARANTHA, (How Beautiful with Shoes) (Revised 2016)

Libretto by the composer and Timothy Nolen, premiered by the Maryland Opera Studio.  

Cast of nine, for two pianos, cello and percussion or optional orchestration for 14 players based on a short story by Wilber Daniel Steele, where a mental patient and former teacher escapes from the hospital, and kidnaps a young Appalachian woman, falls obsessively in love with her while teaching her the beauty of the poetry of John Donne, William Shakespeare, and the Song of Solomon.  In the background, the hunt for the two of them increases, with the search parties coming closer and closer to their hideaway.

Orchestration:  Two pianos, cello and percussion (two players) or 16 players ‘full’ orchestra.

Duration:  100 minutes  (one-act 70 minute version available)

Recording pending.  Produced at Maryland Opera Studio, University of Maryland, workshopped at the O’Neill National Music Theater Center.

Composer Roger Ames calls his “Amarantha” a “play for singing actors,” and its powerful theatrical impact gives that title some justification. But the 95-minute music drama that had its world premiere last night in the University of Maryland’s Tawes Recital Hall is really an opera. The music is highly expressive, instantly intelligible, flexibly varied in its styles and emotional nuances, and full of immediately enjoyable melodies — some of them rooted in the folk idioms of Appalachia, where the story is set. Stylistically, it ranges from simple recitatives, with occasional spoken lines, up to
intense and elaborate arias…
— Joseph McLellan, The Washington Post

EN MIS PALABRAS (2004-05)

Libretto by Jeffrey Gilden

First Prize:  Boston Metro Opera Composition Contest, 2010

Cast of four, (Two mezzo sopranos, tenor and baritone), accompanied by piano, classical guitar and violoncello.  Commissioned by Central City Opera, Deborah Morrow, Producer. Premiered by Central City Opera, Denver and performed often throughout Colorado and the west, as well as the Atlanta (GA) Opera.

One act opera in Spanish and English that deals with multi-cultural issues.  A teenage daughter seeks her own "American" identity in a family encircled with Latino tradition and a conservative father.  After a violent family argument, it takes Magic Realism, and the death of the paternal grandmother to bring the father and daughter back together.  

Orchestration:  Piano / synth and guitar

Duration:  50 minutes

Entire opera on SoundCloud. Recording: “En Mis Palabras Scene 2-2” features Jennifer DeDominici - Ana Maria; Adam Sattley - Rodolpho; Leslie Remmert Soich - Abuela; Steven Taylor - Esteban; Debrah Schmit-Lobis - keyboards; Rick Chinisci - Guitar.

En Mis Palabras has been performed some seventy times and never fails to engage and affect audiences. The beauty of both the story and the music is that the generations come to a deep understanding. The comment I have heard most often from both students and adults after a performance is, “thank you for telling my story.” That is the greatest validation of effectiveness that I can imagine.
— Deborah Morrow, Director of Education and Community Engagement, Central City Opera

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HEARTS ON FIRE (1995)

Libretto by Laura Harrington, produced and directed by Ben Krywosz, Minnesota Opera – New Music Theater Ensemble.  

A young woman battles her demons and seeks redemption for her mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease.  “The imagery, poetry and musical palette are experimental, contemporary, and provocatively effective.”  Minneapolis review).  Accompanied by synthesizer, optional percussion and tape – the piece is primarily a cappella in nature, with textures from spoken (acted) word through passionate arias interwoven in a powerfully dramatic way.

Orchestration:  Piano / synth, and tape. Cast of 4.

Duration: 95 minutes

Recording features Maggie Meg Reed, Mezzo Soprano; Susan Lambert, Soprano; Clyde Barrow, Baritone.


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Martin Guerre is in a class by itself. By definition this beautiful musical tragedy is not an opera; every word is not sung. But the scope of the production is so immense, the music so powerful, that it comes close in spirit and greatness to opera. It is a formidable musical work no matter what you call it. Treat yourself to this theatre masterpiece.
— The Hartford Courier

MARTIN GUERRE (1993)

Libretto by Laura Harrington, produced by Hartford Stage, Mark Lamos, Director

Winner: “Play of the Year,” Connecticut Journalists’ Award.

Martin Guerre and Mireille De Rols are married in 15th century France, to enlarge an estate. The arranged marriage fails, Martin goes to war, and Mireille matures to become the one in charge.  Upon his return, he is accused as an imposter, after Mireille falls deeply in love with him and spoils Pierre’s plan for a relationship with her.  A trial follows, and the true Martin appears after Mireille has sworn that the man who returned is her husband. The traitor is hung, and Mireille leaves the estate, the real Martin, and her power behind, to join a nunnery.

Duration:  full evening, 2:10

Orchestration:  Keyboards, string quintet, percussion, Woodwind quintet, Trumpet and Trombone.  Scores available from the composer.

Recordings feature: Production Ensemble, Hartford Stage; Susan Lambert, Soprano; Beth Fowler, Mezzo Soprano; Andrea Scannell, Mezzo Soprano; Barry Blust, Bass. Orchestration by William Harper.


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SLEEPING BEAUTY (1992)

Libretto by Laura Harrington, commissioned by the Northshore Theater, Massachusetts.  Based on the Fairy Tale, with a feminist twist – Sleeping Beauty doesn’t sleep in our version!  She flies around the world learning about life, while the castle only thinks she is sleeping. The work is written for families with young children.

Orchestration:  Piano / Synth

Duration:  50 minutes.

No Recording available.

Score available from rogerwames@gmail.com


The Slave Trade Ship: AMISTAD

The Slave Trade Ship: AMISTAD

AMISTAD (1977)

My first opera. Libretto by Virginia Artist and the composer, commissioned by the Board of Homeland Ministries, received a National Endowment for the Arts grant.  Cast of 8 principal characters, chorus of 16 plus, orchestrations available.  Based on the story of the slave ship Amistad, its overthrow by Singbe and the Africans he leads. It concludes with the famous Supreme Court case, the first in the country to address the issue of slavery, where the Africans were freed thanks to John Quincy Adams, in his role as their defense lawyer, (after he had completed his own presidency). Beautifully workshopped in Washington, D.C. Unproduced professionally.

Full Orchestra. Score and parts available from the composer.

Duration:  Two hours fifteen minutes

Workshopped in Washington, D.C., National Endowment Grant

Recording: “In My Mind” features Calvin Remsberg, Tenor.