Children's and Liturgical Opera Company, LLC
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CHILDREN'S OPERAS: Char Face

 
CHAR FACE

a children's opera by Susan Hulsman Bingham
based on the traditional Native American tale

Cover page to performance program by Natalya Slepneva
 

VOICING:

   

all treble chorus only

CAST:

   

Narrator (adult preferable)
Char Face
Char Face’s Father
Char Face’s Cruel Sister #1
Char Face’s Cruel Sister #2
Invisible Being
Invisible Being’s Sister

Treble Chorus
In addition to functioning as the voice of the main characters, the Treble Chorus Members represent Hunters and Neighbors, and a small group of the Choristers also doubles as Dancers depicting Bows, Arrows, Sun, Moon, Stars, Animals, Plants, and Water.

ACCOMPANIMENT:

   

piano, synthesizer, percussion

CHORUS:

   

treble chorus are all acting parts

DANCE:

   

free form, simple movements

SOURCE OF TEXT:

   

Traditional Native American

LANGUAGE:

   

English

MUSICAL STYLE:
   

tonal, melodic, eclectic

SCENES:

   

eight

DURATION:

   

fifty minutes

PREMIER:

   

Students of Worthington Hooker Elementary School performed this opera at Yale University's Sprague Memorial Hall, New Haven, CT., 1998, with Ellen Greist, director, Susan Smyth, music director, and Karen Davidson, Choreographer. Lead costumes: Dora Shpitalnik • Set, props, other costumes: Judie Alderman • Percussion consultant: Baba David Coleman

 

SYNOPSIS

 

Char Face is the youngest of three sisters living in an Algonquin village on the edge of Lake Ontario. Since her cruel older sisters force her to do all the household chores, and since many of the chores are carried out near an open fire, Char Face's skin becomes scarred and dry, and her hair becomes ragged.

On the edge of the village lives a great and wondrous Invisible Being. All the young women of the village want to marry him, but only she who can see him will be allowed. In an effort to win the Invisible Being, Char Face's two older sisters use most of the family wealth to deck themselves out in finery. They approach the wigwam and meet the Invisible Beings sister. She asks them to prove that they have seen the Invisible Being, and though they fail, they are invited to stay outside the wigwam all night and witness the Invisible Being's arrival. Sure enough, he comes, but of course they cannot see him. All they can see are his bow and arrows dancing, as if by themselves. The cruel sisters flee in terror.

Char Face has also heard that only she who has seen the Invisible Being may marry him. She feels far too unworthy to assume that he would be interested in her, but when Char Face's father overhears Char Face singing about how she sees the Invisible Being everywhere -- in the trees, the rain, the sunlight -- he gives her all that he has left -- his own worn sandals, a piece of animal skin for a dress, among a few other things, and encourages her to go and meet the Invisible Being.

Like her sisters, Char Face is intercepted by the Invisible Being's sister. She is asked many questions, and she answers them correctly. Convinced that Char Face truly has seen the Invisible Being, the sister allows Char Face to remain the night. As the night grows still, the great Insivible Being appears, again dancing with bow and arrows. He is struck by Char Face's beauty despite her rough clothing, ragged hair and scarred face. And it is obvious that Char Face sees him perfectly. He tells Char Face to go to the healing waters of the Great Lakes and wash. After that, she is to put on some bridal garments and be married. She does so, shedding, in the water, all the sorrows and bitterness of her hard life. At the same time, the waters soothe her skin and hair, and she emerges from the waters completely healed.

Char Face dons her bridal garments, and she and the Invisible Being paddle away in a canoe to live happily ever after.

 

Musical score: $50 + $8 shipping and handling within the U.S. Price includes performing rights and permission to make a limited number of copies for cast and accompanists (see contract agreement which accompanies order form).


Downloadable PDF file of "Char Face": $25.



DVD available: $25 +$3 shipping and handling within the U.S.

Composer's comment: CHAR FACE is a melodic little opera based on a beautiful and meaning-filled Native American tale. Fifty fourth-grade children sang, acted and danced at our first performance, and fifty third-grade children assisted as a (non-acting/dancing) chorus.

 

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