William MacSems, Composer

Music for Band, Orchestra, Chamber Ensemble & Chorus

                     Opera Descriptions and Synopsis

Mardi Gras, A commedia dell?arte opera

Composer: William MacSems
Librettist: Gale Hoffman
Performance: Premiere performance, 1993, Chamber Made Opera, Sacramento, CA; Chyouga Community College, Cleveland, OH
Length: 1 act in 12 scenes, 45 minutes
Vocal/Musical forces: a cast of 5: Colby (soprano), Judy (soprano), Harley, Paddy (tenor), 
Nello (baritone)
Instrumental acc. (Piano or 17 piece orchestra) Flute, Oboe, Bb Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn in F,
Bb Trumpet, (1) Percussion (3) 1st Violin, 
(3) 2nd Violin, (2) Viola, (1) Cello, (1) Contra Bass,

Musical style: contemporary tonal, melodic, lyrical and humorous
Set requirement: Bedroom
Source of work: Original
Synopsis: a simple, comedic example of the license people take when hidden behind a mask.
View on https://www.youtube.com/user/Bill52681
 Rated: PG


The Outcasts of Poker Flat 

Composer: William MacSems
Librettist: William MacSems
Performance: Premiere performance, 1996, Capitol Opera, Sacramento, CA
Length: 2 acts in 4 scenes. Duration: 2hr
Vocal/Musical forces: Duchess, Piney Woods (soprano), Mother Shipton (contralto),
Tom Simpson, Uncle Billy, (tenor), John Oakhurst (baritone)

Instrumental acc; 27-piece orchestra:

(2) Flute, Oboe, (2) Bb Clarinets)
Bassoon, (2) Trumpet in C, (2) Horn in F, Bb Trombone,
Bb Bass Trombone, Timpani, Percussion,
(4) -1st violins, (4) -2nd violins, (3) violas, (2) cello, (1) contra bass

(for chamber performance) Fl, Ob Bb Cl (double Bsn or Bb bs Cl), St quartet, Piano, & Perc

Musical style: Contemporary tonal, melodic arias, good balance of dissonance and consonance.

Source of work: Bret Hart?s short story, The Outcasts of Poker Flat. Public domain.

Synopsis: Four disreputable characters have been banished from the suddenly virtuous community of Poker Flat, located in the Sierra Mountains of California of the 1850?s. In their trek over the mountain to Sandy Bar, they are met by Tom Simpson and Piney Woods, his teenage bride to be. This is an episode that reveals the transformation of character, due to the influence of the young couple. There are a few surprises and a ?true to opera? ending.
Rated: PG


The Gift

Composer: William MacSems
Librettist: William MacSems
Length: 1 act in 4 scenes, 35 minutes
Vocal/Musical forces: a cast of 4: Della, (lyric Soprano), Madame Capelli (dramatic soprano), Jim (tenor), Mr. Kaplan (baritone). 
Instrumental acc. (Piano)
Musical style: tonal, melodic, and lyrical
Source of work: O'Henry's, The Gift of the Magi. Public domain
Synopsis: A case of beautiful irony and true love. Newly weds sell their personal treasure to buy the other a Christmas present. The irony is in their selection of a gift, which was to enhance the other?s treasure.
Contact: William MacSems: phone (916) 392-0739, e-mail bmacsems@macnexus.org, web site http://williammacsems.bravehost.com/.
Rated: G

Pandora's Box
An opera for an audience of children
Composer: William MacSems
Librettist: William MacSems
Length: 1 act in 4 scenes, 30 minutes
Vocal/Musical forces: a cast of 3: Pandora, Hope (soprano), Epaminandas (tenor), a few children to play the role of the troubles. (optional)

Instrumental acc: Piano
Musical style: tonal, melodic
Source of work: Daniel Hawthorn?s version of Pandora's Box. Public domain

Synopsis: In the time before grown-ups and troubles, the curiosity of a little girl (Pandora) overpowers the cautious concern of a boy (Epaminandas). They open the box of troubles accompanied by hope. A narrator opens the opera and periodically intervenes until just before the box is opened. The character, Hope, and the storyteller are a duel role.
Rated: G


Composer: William MacSems
Librettist: Michael Hall
Length: 1 act in 4 scenes, 1 hour, 10 minutes
Vocal/Musical forces: a cast of a cast of 2: Claire (soprano) Hamid (tenor)
Instrumental acc; (20 piece orch) Flute, Oboe (English. horn), Bb Clarinets, Bassoon,
(2) Trumpet, Horn in F, Trombone, Percussion, Timpani,
( 3) 1st Violins, (3) 2nd Violins, (2) Violas, (1) Cello, (1) Contra Bass

Musical style: Contemporary, tonal, good balance of dissonance and consonance. melodic arias
Source of work: Original

Synopsis: The story deals with the aftermath of a serious terrorist attack in a city. Although not specified by name, New York is implied though the location could be changed with minor alterations to the script. The woman suspects her Middle Eastern lover of knowing about the attack before it happened when he warned her not to go downtown that day. He claims he had a premonition so naturally told her. The woman's own recollection of exactly what he said to warn her has been blurred by confusion, shock, doubt and prejudice, and her search for the truth of what her lover knew is anything but. Straight forward.
Rated: G