Shining Brow
Composer: Daron Hagen
Librettist: Paul Muldoon
Other Artistic Personnel: Roland Johnson (Conductor)
Original Cast: Michael Sokol (Frank Lloyd Wright)
Carolann Page (Mamah Cheney)
Barry Busse (Louis Sullivan)
Kitt Reuter Foss (Catherine Wright)
Bradley Garvin (Edwin Cheney)
Mimmi Fulmer (The Maid)
Work Web Site:
Premiere Date: April 21, 1993
Producing Company: Madison Opera
Description: Shining Brow, the translation of the Welsh Taliesin, is the name Wright gave his homes in Wisconsin and Arizona. The period of time covered in Shining Brow includes some of the most tumultuous years of Wright's life, from 1903 to 1914. During the work, the scenes shift from the Cliff Dweller's Club in Chicago, where Wright's discarded mentor, Louis Sullivan, appears, to a construction site in Oak Park, to Berlin, and then to Taliesin, where some of the most tragic events of Wright's life occur. The work portrays Wright's relationship with a client, Mamah Cheney, who leaves her husband, Edwin, for the architect. Their affair is further complicated by the fact that Catherine, Wright's wife, refuses to grant him a divorce. Wright visits Sullivan in Chicago, and it is here that he learns that Taliesin has been destroyed by fire. Mamah has been killed, along with six other victims -- three were hatcheted to death by the madman who set the house on fire, Wright's chef, Julian Carleton. The chef is soon found -- his throat burned from drinking hydrochloric acid. As the opera closes, Wright imagines rebuilding Taliesin in Mamah's memory.
Character List (Major): Frank Lloyd Wright (baritone)
Mamah Cheney (soprano)
Louis Sullivan (tenor)
Edwin Cheney (bass-baritone)
Catherine Wright (mezzo-soprano)
Character List (Minor): Maid / Townswoman (soprano)
Julian Carleton (spoken)
Wife / Townswoman #1 (soprano)
Draftsman / Workman #2 / Reporter #2 (soprano)
Townswoman #2 / Wife (mezzo-soprano)
Reporter #1 / Workman #3 / Workman #5 (tenor)
Waiter / Reporter #3 / Workman #4 (baritone)
Workman #1 / Guest / Photographer / Last Draftsman (bass)
Reviews: Opera, John Koopman, 8-93; Wisconsin State Journal, 5-27-93; The New Yorker, Paul Griffiths, 5-17-93; The Village Voice, Leighton Kerner, 5-11-93; Isthmus (WI), Jess Anderson, 4-30-93; The New York Times, James R. Oestreich, 4-28-93; Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein, 4-23-93; Milwaukee Sentinel, Nancy Raabe, 4-23-93; Chicago Sun-Times, Wynne Delacoma, 4-23-93; The Capital Times (WI), Jay Rath, 4-22-93.
Length: 03:00
Total Acts: 2
Chorus: Chorus
Orchestration: Large Version (50 players):

Small Version (31 players): (, in players)

Chamber Version (in preparation; 16 players): please contact the composer


Musical Style: Polytonal, use of verbal motifs, colorful orchestration, barbershop quartet, musical quotations and allusions; each main character has his or her own motif, tonal center, and instrumentation. For example: Frank Lloyd Wright is identified by a tritone
Contact: ECS Publishing
E-mail Address:
Phone: 1-800-777-1919; 617-236-1935
Composer Web Site:
Librettist Web Site:
Publisher Web Site:
Schedule of Performances Listings
Shining Brow (Hagen)
Wednesday, July 23, 1997 - Chicago Opera Theater
Shining Brow (Hagen)
Wednesday, April 21, 1993 - Madison Opera
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