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Transformations (Vocal Score)

By Conrad Susa

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Opera for mixed voices
Composed by Conrad Susa (1935-). Full Length Opera. Secular, 20th Century. Vocal score. Published by E.C. Schirmer Publishing (EC.660).

Item Number: EC.660

Text: Anne Sexton.

Written by Anne Sexton

An Entertainment in 2 Acts. Transformations was originally published as a book of poems by Anne Sexton in 1971. Her story-poems recreate, with wit and unsettling humor, 17 familiar tales (from The Brothers Grimm) and, with relentless honesty, uncover her own personal demons. With the author's cooperation, nine of these poems were taken verbatim and set as a contemporary opera by Conrad Susa. Duration: ~ 2 Hours

8 Voices performing multiple roles in 9 fairy tales (2 Sopranos, 1 Mezzo-Soprano, 3 Tenors, 1 High Baritone, 1 Bass-Baritone)

May 1973, Minnesota Opera

Notable Performances:
Spoleto Festival USA
Aspen Music Festival
Opera Theatre of St. Louis
Peabody Institute
San Francisco Opera
Wexford Opera Festival
The Juilliard School

Instrumentation Notes:
Clarinet, Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, Contrabass, Electric Harpsichord, Electric Piano, Electric Celeste, Electric Organ, Percussion (2 players)


Susa's score is economical, intelligent, witty, alert: a cunning theatre piece, sure in its proportions and its varied gaits, always engaging and inventive. Each of Sexton's tales has an introduction; in her fables the moral is stated first, then comes the exemplification. This gives the composer a chance to practice his own kind of transformations ...There are happy allusions to the styles of specific performers- Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters. The instrumentalists are also asked to be inventively imitative, to recall now Ethel Smith, now Perez Prado. I like the opera even better than the book of poems; fresh winds from the world blow into it. It inhabits the terrain of Stravinsky's Reynard and Soldier's Tale, Kurt Weill's... Mahagonny and Seven Deadly Sins- not as an imitation of any of those works but in being a 1970's successor in scale, texture, and tunefulness, and in being delightful entertainment that is not trivial.
-Andrew Porter, THE NEW YORKER


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