Details

Positions 1956

An Instructional Opera in Three Parts

Libretto by Michael Korie
Inspired by Instructional Manuals of the 1950’s

COMMISSIONED: By UrbanArias, Washington DC

PREMIERE: April 2012, the Artisphere Theater; conductor, Robert Wood; director, Noah Himmelstein; The Bride, Amedee Moore; The Groom, Jesse Blumberg; The Trainer/The Instructor, Vale Rideout

DURATION: 90 minutes

PUBLISHER: All Conrad Cummings works are self-published; contact him here.

INSTRUMENTATION: violin, cello, woodwind doubler (flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax, tenor sax)(alternately two woodwind players), and keyboard

CAST OF CHARACTERS:

The Bride, soprano
The Groom, baritone
The Trainer/The Instructor, tenor

Excerpt:

Positions photo

Program Note

STORY & SETTING

“Positions 1956” explores the “positions” both sexual and societal of the mid-1950s as a newlywed Bride and Groom educate themselves with instructional manuals.

Part One, “Marriage Manual,” is set in a bedroom over the first few months of the Bride and Groom’s marriage as they explore positions and begin to learn about each other.

Part Two, “Physique,” is set in a gym where the Groom goes to a Trainer to receive a course in physical fitness based on exercises from 1950s men’s physique magazines.

Part Three, “Social Dancing,” is set in a dance studio where the Bride and Groom learn how to dance from an Instructor using methods from “How to Dance” manuals of the 1950s.
 
 
PRODUCTION REQUIREMENTS

“Marriage Manual” requires a double bed, night tables and two lamps. In “Physique,” the bed is replaced with a gym mat, a bench, a stool, and a few weights. “Social Dancing” is set on a bare stage set up to look like a dance studio.
To support the “instructional manual” core on which the opera hinges, the chapter headings of each of the marital positions, exercises, and dances are projected in a visible manner, e.g. on the wall behind the bed, the gymnasium and the dance studio.
The opera features three principal singers accompanied by an instrumental quartet: violin, cello, woodwind and synthesizer. There are no pauses between the three parts of the opera. The few set changes are expedited in view of the audience.

Libretto

Positions Libretto graphic

Download the complete libretto:

Production Gallery

Production photos from Urban Arias’ 2012 production

Part 1: “Marriage Manual”

Part 2: “Physique”

Part 3: “Social Dancing”

Perusal Materials

Download the complete score:

Download the complete libretto:

Complete audio:

Part 1: Marriage Manual

Part 2: Physique

Part 3: Social Dancing

Concert Suite with Piano

For a fifteen-minute concert suite for mezzo or soprano, baritone, and piano, see “FROM POSITIONS 1956”

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