Children's and Liturgical Opera Company, LLC
www.chancelopera.com
 

CHILDREN'S OPERAS: Fable Operas

 
 

FABLE OPERAS

tiny operas for children by Susan Hulsman Bingham

THE FOX AND THE CROW

Photo: New Haven Register
 
VOICING:
treble chorus with optional treble solo parts
CAST:
Fox, Crow, Bald Man, Fly, Androcles, Lion, Tree, Reed, Laborer, Nightingale, Two Crabs, Goose with Golden Egg, Wind, Sun, Whispering Bird, Rich Man, Shoemaker, Street Urchins
ACCOMPANIMENT:
piano
CHORUS:
treble chorus
DANCE:
simple group dances
PROPS:
minimal, can be made by children; details in score
SOURCE OF TEXTS:
La Fontaine and Aesop Fables; one by Susan Bingham
LANGUAGE:
English
MUSICAL STYLE:
Eclectic, spare, melodic, not too hard
SCENES:
Eleven. Mix and match; cut scenes you cannot use, as each scene is a separate story.

DURATION:

thirty minutes
PREMIER:
Thornton Wilder Hall, Hamden, Connecticut, 1992
 
NOTE and LIST OF FABLES
 

NOTE: In cases where children can handle solo roles, this may be allowed; if the children are unable to support solo roles, a group of children may be used to depict one character, or an adult may take the part. If adults are used, there are parts of soprano(s) and males in the low tenor/high baritone range.

THE FABLES: Fox and Crow, Bald Man and the Fly, The Goose with the Golden Egg, The Laborer and the Nightingale, The Wind and the Sun, Androcles and the Lion, The Tree and the Reed, The Two Crabs, Whispering Bird, The Rich Man and the Shoemaker.

 
Synopses of the Fable Operas
 

THE FOX AND THE CROW by Aesop and La Fontaine

A fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of cheese in its beak and settle on a branch of a tree. "That's for me, as I am a Fox," said Master Reynard, and he walked up to the foot of the tree. "Good day, Mistress Crow," he cried. "How well you are looking to-day: how glossy your feathers; how bright your eyes. I feel sure your voice must surpass that of other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song from you that I may greet you as the Queen of Birds." The Crow lifted up her head and began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her mouth the piece of cheese fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by Master Fox. "That will do," said he. "That was all I wanted. In exchange for your cheese I will give you a piece of advice for the future --
DO NOT TRUST FLATTERERS.

THE BALD MAN AND THE FLY by Aesop
adapted by Susan Bingham

There was once a Bald Man who sat down after work on a hot summer's day. A Fly came up and kept buzzing about his bald pate, and stinging him from time to time. The Man did not move. Again the Fly tormented him, but the Man continued to sit perfectly still. The reason?:
YOU WILL ONLY INJURE YOURSELF IF YOU TAKE NOTICE OF DESPICABLE ENEMIES.

ANDROCLES AND THE LION by Aesop and La Fontaine
adapted by Susan Bingham

An escaped slave named Androcles was walking in the forest. As he was wandering about there he came upon a Lion lying down moaning and groaning. At first he turned to flee, but finding that the Lion did not pursue him, he turned back and went up to him. As he came near, the Lion put out his paw, which was all swollen and bleeding, and Androcles found that a huge thorn had got into it, and was causing all the pain. He pulled out the thorn and bound up the paw of the Lion, who was soon able to rise and lick the hand of Androcles like a dog. Suddenly hunters appeared. Both Androcles and the Lion were captured, and the slave was sentenced to be thrown to the Lion, after the latter had been kept without food for several days. The Emperor and all his Court came to see the spectacle, and Androcles was led out into the middle of the arena. Soon the Lion was let loose from his den, and rushed bounding and roaring toward his victim. But as soon as he came near to Androcles he recognized his friend, and fawned upon him, and licked his hands like a friendly dog. The Emperor was not at all happy with this behavior and banished them both from his kingdom.
GRATITUDE IS THE SIGN OF NOBLE SOULS.

THE TREE AND THE REED by Aesop

"Well, little one," said a Tree to a Reed that was growing at its foot, "why do you not plant your feet deeply in the ground, and raise your head bodly in the air as I do?" "I am contented with my lot," said the Reed. "I may not be so grand, but I think I am safer." "Safer!" sneered the Tree. "Who shall pluck me up by the roots or bow my head to the ground?" But it soon had to repent of its boasting, for a hurricane arose which tore it up from its roots, and cast it a useless log on the ground, while the little Reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.
OBSCURITY OFTEN BRINGS SAFETY.

THE LABORER AND THE NIGHTINGALE by Aesop

A Nightingale was singing beautifully. A Laborer, wanting to keep her song near him always, trapped her and threatened to put her in a cage. "Now that I have caught you, you shall always sing to me," he said. "Never! No, never!" the Nightingale cried. "A nightingale never sings in a cage." "Then I will have to eat you! I have heard that the nightingale on toast is very tasty!" the Laborer yelled back. "Nay, do not kill me, but set me free, and I'll tell you things worth more than me! Secrets! I will tell you things you have always wanted to know!" The Laborer, tempted by this promise, let the Nightingale go. She flew to a safe distance and then said, "Here are the three things I promised to tell you: The first is: never believe a captive's promise. And the second is: keep what you have. And the third is: sorrow not over what is lest forever."
THE THINGS THE NIGHTINGALE TOLD TO THE LABORER ARE THE MORALS OF THIS TALE.

THE TWO CRABS by Aesop
adapted by Susan Bingham

One fine day two Crabs came out from their home to take a stroll on the sand. "Child," said the mother, "you are walking very ungracefully. You should accustom yourself to walking straight forward without twisting from side to side." "Pray, mother," said the young one, "do but set the example yourself, and I will follow you." The mother started off, walking in exactly the same crooked way she had before. The daughter followed behind, imitating her perfectly, walking exactly as she had before.
EXAMPLE IS THE BEST PRECEPT.

THE GOOSE WITH THE GOLDEN EGG by Aesop
adapted by Susan Bingham

One day a countryman going to the nest of his Goose found there an egg all yellow and glittering. When he took it up it was as heavy as lead and he was going to throw it away, because he thought a trick had been played upon him. But he took it home on second thoughts, and soon found to his delight that it was an egg of pure gold. Every morning the same thing occurred, and he soon became rich by selling his eggs. As he grew rich he grew greedy; and thinking to get at once all the gold the Goose could give, he killed it and opened it only to find -- nothing.
GREED OFT O'ERREACHES ITSELF.

THE WIND AND THE SUN by Aesop and La Fontaine

The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said, "I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin." So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak around him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.
KINDNESS EFFECTS MORE THAN SEVERITY.

WHISPERING BIRD by Susan Bingham
in loving memory of Jamie Botwick

A little bird could not sing loudly because she had been sick. The members of her Flock made fun of her because of this. They would not play with her and would not listen to what she had to say. One day a Hawk came near the Flock. "Friends!" Whispering Bird cried. "There's danger about!" But the Flock did not listen. The Hawk came and grabbed a little Bird from the Flock and took her away to eat her. The Flock wished they had listened to Whispering Bird.
JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE SPEAKS SOFTLY DOES NOT MEAN SHE HAS NOTHING TO SAY.

THE RICH MAN AND THE SHOEMAKER by La Fontaine

A Shoemaker is very happy fixing shoes. An unhappy Rich Man lives near him and hates to hear the Shoemaker sing, so he decided to give the Shoemaker a little bag of gold. The Shoemaker accepts the gifts. He stops fixing shoes and spends all his time counting his gold. He stops singing, and this delights the Rich Man. Soon the Shoemaker realizes that he is not happy. He returns the gold to the Rich Man (who is very surprised), returns to his workbench, and starts fixing shoes again. He grows happy and starts to sing. "
RICHES DO NOT ALWAYS MAKE ONE HAPPY.

 
 

Piano/vocal/percussion score of FABLE OPERAS: $50. Price includes shipping within the US; it also includes performance rights and permission to make sufficient copies of the score for cast members and accompanists for one season.



Downloadable PDF file of musical score of FABLE OPERAS: $25.
 

Composer's comment: easy to costume, as homemade pieces can be quickly put on over black clothing. Great little pieces if you want to give your children a chance to do solos.