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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
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The Little Blue One – A Chamber Opera in Three Acts
Dominick DiOrio
Meghan Guidry
Lidiya Yankovskaya (conductor & music director)
Erin Huelskamp (stage director)
Kim Lamoureux, soprano (Azzurina)
Maggie Finnegan, soprano (Arrangiarsia)
Ryne Cherry, baritone (Pietro)
Joshua Collier, tenor (Gennaro)
Sarah Kornfeld, soprano (Schaveria)
Stephanie Benkert, mezzo-soprano (Gelsumia)
April 24, 2014
Juventas New Music Ensemble
The Little Blue One is based on the Italian folktale of Azzurina (which means “the Little Blue One” in Italian), and takes place on June 21st, 1375. The story happens over the course of the summer solstice, beginning in the early morning hours, and winding through until the conclusion at twilight.

According to the folktale, Azzurina is the beloved daughter of the lord of a wealthy manor. As she was born with albinism, Azzurina is kept within the confines of the manor walls by her overprotective father, who also dyes her hair a deep blue to disguise her normally white hair. On one summer solstice, Azzurina—desirous for more freedom, and longing to be recognized as the young lady she is—begs her father to let her stay up for the all-night festivities that honor the summer solstice. Her father—unwilling to let her do anything quite so adult—agrees to let her stay up, but only until sundown. He tells her that witches and evil creatures come haunt the manor after the sun disappears. He then gives her a new red ball to play with.

Later that night, Azzurina sneaks down into the manor catacombs to stay up late, and play more before being sent to bed. She throws the ball down into the darker portions of the catacombs, and hesitantly goes to retrieve it. Then, she reprimands herself for being so childish, and throws the ball even further. Finally, she throws the ball into the dark and cannot see it. Though she is scared, she again scolds herself, and goes to retrieve the ball. However, she never emerges from that darkness.

All night, the manor guards and Azzurina’s parents search for her, but cannot find her. The entire manor is thrown into mourning when they realize that she is gone.

Supposedly, every summer solstice, if you listen closely, you can hear Azzurina calling for her father, saying, “Daddy, daddy, I’m here…”

This version of the story stays true to the folktale in terms of plot, but aims to explore the darker implications within the original text. Drawing from developmental psychology, ritual theory, and pathology, The Little Blue One explores the original tale through a darker lens, looking at the collision of worlds, and what it means to be caught between them.


lyric coloratura soprano

“The Little Blue One.” Azzurina is the daughter of the Lord of a wealthy Italian manor. Born albino, Azzurina’s father dyes her hair a deep blue to disguise her abnormality, which in turn has given rise to her nickname. Azzurina is not allowed outside of the palace walls for fear that her unique condition will not be understood. Though she is 13, she looks simultaneously older and younger: she is very frail and sickly (like an older woman) but her face and mannerisms often betray her adolescence and her sudden mood swings.


coloratura soprano

Azzurina’s best—and only—friend, Arrangiarsia often plays with Azzurina, and is always trying to engage her in games they have played and developed for years. While never addressed, it is clear that Arrangiarsia and Azzurina have been dear friends for years, and Arrangiarsia always tries to distract Azzurina when she is depressed, or when she begins talking about wanting to engage in a more public, adult life.



Azzurina’s father, and the Lord of the Manor, Pietro is fiercely protective of Azzurina. While some of his behaviors can be easily construed as an overprotective father trying to shield his unique daughter from the cruelties he perceives she will encounter, there also seems to be a thread of something sinister, or something self-serving, in his constant attempts to keep Azzurina confined within the walls of the palace, and to keep her in a childlike state of dependence.



The leader of the manor guards, and Pietro’s trusted companion. Gennaro is a young man (early 20s), and is the favorite of all the palace maidens. His relationship with Schaveria is often conflicted, as their interactions seem to swing between those of siblings, and those of lovers. Gennaro is also exceptionally kind to Azzurina, whom he has known since she was a young child. Azzurina often imagines that his kindness is affection—even love—for her, though she is also painfully aware of his connection to Schaveria.



The head “maiden” of the manor. Schaveria oversees and instructs the other maidens in their duties, and is often the first to shoo Azzurina away from any activities she and the other maidens are doing.



One of the maidens of the manor, and Schaveria’s best friend. The two often work together on projects and duties around the manor. However, Gelsumia is more soft-spoken, and less hot-tempered than Schaveria.

Forthcoming, after premiere in April 2014
Percussion (Marimba, Vibraphone w/ motor, C4 Chime, Tenor Drum & Suspended Cymbal)
Dominick DiOrio
3362 S Cheekwood Ln
Bloomington IN 47401

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