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SWEET POTATO KICKS THE SUN

An Opera For All Ages
(For Small Ensemble and Special Guest Artist)

Dramatis Personae and Instrumentation
 

SWEET POTATO KICKS THE SUN

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

 

SPECIAL GUEST ARTIST, a renowned person performing under their real-life name

ROOFTOP GARDEN FAMILY*

SWEET POTATO (vocalist), a young trickster and grandchild
89 (vocalist), a vigilant hummingbird and grandchild, best friend to SWEET POTATO
GRANDFATHER BEEKEEPER (vocalist), caretaker of all creatures and grandchildren in the rooftop garden, including HONEYBEES and PIGEONS
GRANDMOTHER SEED-KEEPER (vocalist), caretaker of all grandchildren and vegetation in the garden as well as in her secret glass jar factory cellar
SQUIRREL (minor role), a grandchild in charge of the Cosmic Cord, a sacred string the family uses to send their prayers beyond the sky
PIGEON (minor role), a grandchild and message-carrier who searches for SWEET POTATO
HONEYBEE (minor role), a grandchild and dreamed honeybee who reveals important information to SWEET POTATO

[OPTIONAL (but very much wanted) ROOFTOP GARDEN FAMILY]
BABY HONEYBEES (optional youth chorus), grandchildren whose hive is tended by GRANDFATHER BEEKEEPER
BABY HONEYBEE #1 (optional soloist drawn from youth chorus)
BABY HONEYBEE #2 (optional soloist drawn from youth chorus)
YOUNG PIGEONS (optional youth chorus), grandchildren
NOTES: All optional youth chorus sounds can be conveyed by musicians instead of chorus as needed; actor delivers alternative text if no youth chorus is used. DURATION: Inclusion of youth chorus does not change duration of this work.

*Costuming conveys that all rooftop family members belong to a readily recognized group. This is especially important for action of Arc 4.

CITY-DWELLERS
FRIENDLY DOG (minor role), an amiable dog whose tail taps out beautiful beats
BUSY WOODPECKER (minor role), a hard-working woodpecker whose bill hammers out arresting rhythms
SPINNING SPIDER (minor role), an enchanting spider whose eight legs weave mysterious string music
CITY-DWELLER 1 (vocalist, may double GRANDMOTHER and/or GRANDFATHER), a candy-lover who hangs out in City Park Playground
CITY-DWELLER 2 (minor role), friend to City-Dweller 1
[WOODPECKERS (optional youth chorus), woodpeckers living near a city telephone pole]
[WILD BIRDS (optional youth chorus), wild birds living on City Park Mountain]

SETTING
A rooftop garden; streets; a public park mountaintop; a playground; and a glass jar factory cellar in a city where all creatures (humans, animals, birds, insects) live as equals and are able to speak and sing.

VOCAL TYPES – all lead singers require acting, pantomime, and comedy skills

SWEET POTATO – light lyric soprano, somewhat soubrette and somewhat coloratura.

89 – light lyric character baritone, somewhat buffo.

GRANDMOTHER, GRANDFATHER, and CITY-DWELLER 1 – lyrical mezzo-soprano, somewhat dramatic; or lyrical bass, somewhat dramatic, with ability to sing falsetto in the role of GRANDMOTHER.

SQUIRREL, PIGEON, FRIENDLY DOG, WOODPECKER, SPINNING SPIDER, HONEYBEE, CITY-DWELLER 2 – actor able to move well, make animal sounds, and sing; not required to read musical notation as pitches can be learned by ear; if optional youth chorus is not used in the opera, actor will deliver up to 5 lines of additional text distributed across existing roles.

GENDER NOTE
Apart from GRANDMOTHER and GRANDFATHER, all roles are unmarked by gender.

SPECIAL GUEST ARTIST NOTE
The libretto offers skeleton text for the role of GUEST ARTIST. Depending on the nature of the special guest artist’s work and stage experience, text may in places be cut, altered, or improvised without significantly changing the opera’s story, structure, or duration. In performances, each guest artist is referred to by their real name. The libretto employs the name of Nicole Paris, who is creating the role of GUEST ARTIST for SANTA FE OPERA.

PERSONNEL NOTES
If needed, the opera can be given by three principal vocalists as detailed above. This work however ideally utilizes four principal vocalists in the following roles: Sweet Potato, 89, Grandfather, Grandmother. Either way, additional required personnel include one actor and a special guest artist. The GUEST ARTIST may be a vocalist (beatboxer, country singer, jazz singer, rapper, scat singer, yodeler, etc.), or any other performer or presenter not traditionally associated with opera (artist, athlete, inventor, scientist, comedian, puppeteer, or any who may demonstrate some aspect of their work to a live audience). Youth Chorus roles are optional; note that their inclusion does not change the opera’s duration. In the libretto, optional roles appear in brackets; for example: [BABY HONEYBEES]. If no youth Chorus is used, a few lines of text will be added to some existing roles covered by the actor.

INSTRUMENTATION
(ON-STAGE ENSEMBLE OR ABLE TO SEE AND REACT TO ALL ACTIONS ON STAGE)

1 flute doubling piccolo and alto flute
1 clarinet doubling bass clarinet
1 violin
1 cello
1 piano
1 percussion

DURATION
c.83 minutes

 

 

SECTIONS

Sweet Potato Kicks The Sun!

ARC 1 - Departure
Call To Prayer
Cosmic Cord
The Grandmother Song
Uh Oh Ta-To!
Take A Kodak

ARC 2 - Ascent
Friendly Dog
Busy Woodpecker
Spinning Spider

ARC 3 - Panorama
Call To The Honeybees
Coded Message
To The West!

ARC 4 – Contest
Dark Zone
Hungry Potato
The Magic Whistle Battle
Dream Team

ARC 5 - Descent
Down To The Cellar
The Shadow Dance

ARC 6 - Return
Pigeon’s Message
Celebration!
The Laughing Song

The End!