Appomattox
Composer: Philip Glass
Composer Bio: Through his operas, his symphonies, his compositions for his own ensemble, and his wide-ranging collaborations with artists ranging from Twyla Tharp to Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen to David Bowie, Philip Glass has had an extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his times. The operas – “Einstein on the Beach,” “Satyagraha,” “Akhnaten,” and “The Voyage,” among many others – play throughout the world’s leading houses, and rarely to an empty seat. Glass has written music for experimental theater and for Academy Award-winning motion pictures such as “The Hours” and Martin Scorsese’s “Kundun,” while “Koyaanisqatsi,” his initial filmic landscape with Godfrey Reggio and the Philip Glass Ensemble, may be the most radical and influential mating of sound and vision since “Fantasia.” His associations, personal and professional, with leading rock, pop and world music artists date back to the 1960s, including the beginning of his collaborative relationship with artist Robert Wilson. Indeed, Glass is the first composer to win a wide, multi-generational audience in the opera house, the concert hall, the dance world, in film and in popular music -- simultaneously. He was born in 1937 and grew up in Baltimore. He studied at the University of Chicago, the Juilliard School and in Aspen with Darius Milhaud. Finding himself dissatisfied with much of what then passed for modern music, he moved to Europe, where he studied with the legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger (who also taught Aaron Copland , Virgil Thomson and Quincy Jones) and worked closely with the sitar virtuoso and composer Ravi Shankar. He returned to New York in 1967 and formed the Philip Glass Ensemble – seven musicians playing keyboards and a variety of woodwinds, amplified and fed through a mixer. The new musical style that Glass was evolving was eventually dubbed “minimalism.” Glass himself never liked the term and preferred to speak of himself as a composer of “music with repetitive structures.” Much of his early work was based on the extended reiteration of brief, elegant melodic fragments that wove in and out of an aural tapestry. Or, to put it another way, it immersed a listener in a sort of sonic weather that twists, turns, surrounds, develops. There has been nothing “minimalist” about his output. In the past 25 years, Glass has composed more than twenty operas, large and small; eight symphonies (with others already on the way); two piano concertos and concertos for violin, piano, timpani, and saxophone quartet and orchestra; soundtracks to films ranging from new scores for the stylized classics of Jean Cocteau to Errol Morris’s documentary about former defense secretary Robert McNamara; string quartets; a growing body of work for solo piano and organ. He has collaborated with Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Yo-Yo Ma, and Doris Lessing, among many others. He presents lectures, workshops, and solo keyboard performances around the world, and continues to appear regularly with the Philip Glass Ensemble.
Librettist: Christopher Hampton
Librettist Bio: Christopher James Hampton, CBE, FRSL (born 26 January 1946) is a Portuguese British playwright, screen writer and film director. He is best known for his play based on the novel Les Liaisons dangereuses and the film version Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and also more recently for writing the nominated screenplay for the film adaptation of Ian McEwan's Atonement
Work Web Site: http://www.philipglass.com/music/compositions/appomattox.php
Premiere Date: October 05, 2007
Producing Company: San Francisco Opera
Description: Prologue: April, 1865
The brutal American Civil War is drawing to a close. Three scenes unfold simultaneously as Julia (Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant), Mary Custis (Mrs. Robert E. Lee) with her daughter Agnes, and Mary Todd Lincoln with her seamstress Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave, separately express their anxieties, then jointly voice their foreboding about the suffering that is imminent.

ACT I: April 2–9, 1865
Scene 1 — Aboard his floating headquarters on the Potomac, President Lincoln meets with Grant and enunciates his River Queen Doctrine, outlining the generous terms of surrender to be offered to Lee. Their wives arrive, Mrs. Lincoln voicing petty grievances, while Mrs. Grant is steadfast and calm. Hearing of the success of the day's battle, Grant orders the final assault on Richmond.

Scene 2 — Mrs. Lee rejects her husband's advice to flee Richmond before the coming battle. Lee reflects on his reason for joining the Confederacy despite having been offered the leadership of the Union forces: his invincible loyalty to his home state of Virginia. General Cobb arrives to protest the proposal, favored by Lee, of arming slaves to fight for the Confederacy. If slaves can make good soldiers, he argues, where does that leave their theory of slavery? Lee responds that his business is war, not theorizing.

Scene 3 — On the eve of the Union's attack on Richmond, Julia Grant reflects on the hard years of her husband's earlier life, including his business failures and alcoholism, but she recalls her mother's prophecy that he would rise to be the highest in the land. Now she worries about the horrible strain the long, bloody war has put on him. Grant assures her that the seemingly endless killing will soon be over.

Scene 4 — Refugees flee Richmond amid terror and chaos, but Mrs. Lee and Agnes remain in their home. A troop of black union soldiers rejoices in the city's capture. T. Morris Chester, a black journalist from the Philadelphia Press, writes a triumphant news dispatch while seated in the Speaker's chair at the Confederate Congress. Greeted in Richmond by a crowd of newly freed black laborers, Lincoln raises one who had dropped to his knees, saying he must kneel only to God, in thanks for his liberty. With her house now under occupation, Mrs. Lee protests to Union General Rawlins that placing a black soldier as a sentry is an insult. Rawlins apologetically replaces the guard with a white man.

Scene 5 — Grant and Lee exchange a series of letters. Grant proposes that Lee surrender to avoid further bloodshed. Lee's initial response is equivocal, only inquiring as to the terms Grant might propose, and later suggesting they meet to discuss "peace" rather than "surrender." But when Lee receives news of his encircled army's failed breakout attempt, he realizes his options are disappearing. An aide proposes a radical change of strategy: guerrilla warfare. Lee rejects the stratagem, saying that the soldiers would have to revert to robbing and plundering just to subsist. With no remaining alternative, Lee writes to Grant and asks for a meeting to discuss surrender. The full, crushing weight of his decision weighs upon him as he accepts the reality of defeat.

ACT II: April 9, 1865, and later times
The meeting to negotiate the surrender is being prepared in a house owned by Wilbur McLean in the small town of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Lee arrives impeccably dressed, while Grant appears in a battered, stained uniform. After polite reminiscence about their past acquaintance, Lee finally raises the subject of surrender. Grant proposes the broader terms and proceeds to write them down.

Their discussion is interrupted at times by scenes from both the near and distant future, starkly calling to mind that, although these two generals are conducting themselves with uncommon civility, grace, and humanity, long-established inequalities and injustices will remain for generations to come.

Grant proposes--to Lee's great relief--that all officers and men be allowed to return to their homes after handing over their arms. Grant then accedes to Lee's request that all his men, not just the officers, be allowed to keep their horses, so that they can return home to work their farms. The meeting concludes as Lee signs the letter accepting the terms, and the generals shake hands. After Lee bows and leaves, Lee approaches his troops and confirms the surrender; they can go home now, and if they are as good citizens as they were as soldiers, then he will be proud of them.

As the generals depart, soldiers and civilians advance, and the McLean household is systematically ravaged by souvenir hunters. Rapacity and greed—harbingers of the future—violently intrude on the heels of a moment of historic reconciliation.

EPILOGUE:
Julia Grant leads a group of women who lament the tragedy and inevitability of war.
Character List (Major): Robert E. Lee (bar)
Ulysses S. Grant (bar)
Julia Grant (s)
Mary Custis Lee (s)
Mary Todd Lincoln (s)
Elizabeth Keckley (mz)
T. Morris Chester (t)
Abraham Lincoln (bb)
Edgar Ray Killen (bar)
Character List (Minor): Julia Agnes Lee (s)
Brig. Gen. Edward Alexander (t)
Colonel Eli Parker (t)
General Howell Cobb (bar)
Brig. Gen. John A. Rawlins (b)
Wilmer McLean (b)
Bit Parts: Civil Rights Marcher 1 (s)
Civil Rights Marcher 2 (mz)
Civil Rights Marcher 3 (t)
Civil Rights Marcher 4 (b)
Freed Slave 1 (t))
Freed Slave 2 (t)
Freed Slave 3 (bar)
Freed Slave 4 (b)
Naval Officer (bar)
Offstage Voice (bar)
Captain (bar)
Brigadier (t)
Length: Length is not available.
Total Acts: 2
Chorus: SATB, minimum 60 (includes many bit parts)
Orchestration: Singers, Picc., 2 Fl., 2 Ob., EH., 2 Cl., E-flat Cl., BCl., 2 Bsn., CBsn., 4 Hrn., 3 Trpt., 2 Trb., BTrb., Tba., Perc.,Pno., Cel., Hrp., Strings
Contact: Dunvagen Music Publishers
E-mail Address: info@dunvagen.com
Phone: (212) 979-2080
Schedule of Performances Listings
Appomattox (Glass)
Friday, October 5, 2007 - San Francisco Opera
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