The Quartet

This chamber opera was commissioned by the Remarkable Theater Brigade for an evening of Opera Shorts and is based on Ivan Krylov's fable. The work was presented in October 2012 at Carnegie Hall along with chamber operas from other living composers.

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Five singers, Piano and String Quartet (10')
Text: Libretto by Bern H. Herbolsheimer
This work may be performed without a string quartet. In that case the piano should play the string quartet’s part (which is in the score, on two staves) at the times when there is no piano part.

Synopsis: Four animals (Monkey, Goat, Donkey and Bear) are being enchanted by “such sweet harmonies” of music. “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak”, they say. The animals find musical instruments and decide to form a quartet, to “charm and conquer the world with our art”.

After producing horrible sounds, they decide that their sitting position is to blame for that, and rearrange it into “one with order to it”. Alas, this did not help. They try changing their sitting arrangement a couple more times, but all in vain. A Nightingale who happened to be nearby summarizes it for them: “Simply changing your position, will not make you a musician”.