Roger Ames

About this work:
Amarantha, a chamber opera for 9 singers and small orchestra, is based on the short story "How Beautiful With Shoes," by Wilbur Daniel Steele. A patient from the nearby mental hospital in Appalachia escapes and finds Amarantha watching a storm in the hills. He carries her off to her uncle's cabin, where he quotes John Donne, Shakespeare, and the Song of Solomon from the Old Testament Bible - calming her fear with words of ardent love and admiration. As she becomes entranced by his charm, her boyfriend, her uncle and a local posse eventually find them and to rescue her, shoot him. She is traumatized by the incident, and returns to her cabin in the Adirondacks, mute but for her memory of this man and the 'words he brought her." As various family members try to bring her back to reality, the opera ends with her unable to speak to anyone - but able to sing with his 'ghost' the music and poetry that now haunts her limited life. The music is tonal, uses folk song themes from the Appalachian mountains, and can be performed with a small chamber orchestra or with two pianos and percussion. Use of vocal extensions, operatic in style, is limited. By and large, a 'music theater' impulse is honored, but with the over-riding structural use of operatic / scenic musical design.
Version: Chamber Opera
Year composed: 1985
Duration: 01:45:40
Ensemble type: Opera/Theater:Opera, More than One Act, without Chorus
Instrumentation: 1 Flute, 1 English Horn, 1 Clarinet, 1 Bassoon, 1 Horn in F, 1 Trombone, 2 Percussion (General), 1 Piano, 1 Strings (General)
Instrumentation notes: Optional 2 piano, 2 percussionists version
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