Opera: Opera Choruses
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 1996 14:13:29 -0500
Subject: Opera Chorus Summary again
In previous post I included this summary as an attached file- Microsoft Word
(MAC) but I guess many of you could not read it. Sorry!. Thought it would
download for you more quickly. Below is the summary. Hope this helps.
Thanks all for your suggestions.
*Porgy and Bess* has lote of great choruses which are available with piano
reductions. You might also look into Copland's *The Tender Land*.
Yes, I have the Rutter OPERA CHORUSES, but I don't know if you want to go
You can rent the orchestra parts, and the choral parts too, but sometimes
they are not useable by a community chorus. We did an evening of opera
choruses last fall (1994), which included Faust's dream from The Damnation
of Faust by Berlioz. Beautiful chorus piece. The parts were individual -
in other words, the sop, alto, ten and bass were all different. They were
poorly photocopied and hand written in French! It cost a lot of money, but
we got permission from the publisher to photocopy the complete vocal score,
so we all knew where we were (there are also 2 solo parts that come in and
I would suggest you decide on twice as many choruses as you want to do, or
at least more than you want, and then check on availability of music.
Choose some pieces that the audience will know, or they won't like it. And
pick a couple of choruses with dramatic solo parts we did the Habanera from
Carmen (although I could have done without it!) and the audience loved it.
We also did most of Act I from Traviata, with Violetta and Germont fils
solos, and Norma's Casta Diva.
If you want some ideas, ask!
If you choose to use the Rutter, you can not copy without permission, and I
don't think your choristers will want to hold the whole book! Although
price wise the cost is in reason.
I'd be interested in what you decide to do,
The Oxford Choral Classics Opera Choruses has full scores and parts,
newly typeset, available from the Oxford Hire Library, at affordable
prices. This is precisely to eliminate the hassle of collecting all the
materials. I know of no comparable source. The book was compiled to
make it possible (and easy) for any choir to access this repertoire.
Consider the G. Schirmer collection "Great Operatic Choruses."
I selected several from it a few years back. The accompaniment is piano,
although there might be orchestral parts available. I think Hal Leonard
now handles this publisher. Or call Pepper.
The collection includes the coronation scene (in English) from Boris
Godunov, Wagner's "Wach' auf," the triumphal scene from Verdi's AIDA, and
When I used it, I supplemented program with a couple of my favorite
operatic choruses not in the collection: "Guerra!" from Bellini's NORMA
and the Turkish chorus from Mozart's ABDUCTION (with bass drum & cymbals).
Bruce MacIntyre (Brooklyn College)
Two other resources you might think of: 1) Luck's
Music Library (800-348-8749) has a lot of individual opera choruses, both
orchestral parts and choral scores (rather inexpensive), and 2) something I
saw recently (February 95) in the Choral Journal about a pre-selected
collection of opera choruses which you buy as a package -- "An Opera Gala
-- Choruses from Italian Grand Opera," ed. by Stanley Harris, published by
Grand Staff, for $20 softbound.
There is another collection (like the Rutter):
An Opera Gala: Choruses from Italian Grand Opera, ed. by Stanley D.
Harris, Grand Staff Press Music Publisher, POBox 1501, Gainesville,
The Rutter Collection is a good one. However the price is quite high. If
you have about $1000, you should consider investing in this collection for
Regarding the orchestral parts, Luck's Music Library, (800) 348-8749, has
one of the largest and most reasonably priced collections of orchestral
music. In their holdings the library also contains a number of operatic
excerpts ready for purchase as well as rental. I have done several opera
excerpt performances and Luck's was outstanding.
There is a volume of opera choruses edited by Adler. I think published
by G. Schirmer. It has most of the basics (Anvil Chorus, etc.) As far
as parts are concerned, most of the operas published by Kalmus are in the
public domain. You may want to contact them directly and request
permission to copy from their publications. They are also often willing
to excerpt orchestral parts on public domain operas (for a price, of
course.) This may be worth a shot.
My favorite is the Final Psalmody (the conclusion to the Prologue in
Heaven) from Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele. I believe there are scores
of the whole Prologue available from G.Schirmer, but those are expensive.
Lawson-Gould publishes an arrangement by Cosimo dePietto of the final
portion alone, which presents the scoring in a more condensed SATB format
(the original is scored for three groups: women-boys-men). There are
several errors in it, but on the whole it's not a bad bet. Title is
Greetings. Contact Katherin Long, acting manager of the Chicago Symphony
Chorus at 312.435-8172. A few years ago we recorded a number of Verdi opera
chorus numbers with the CSO and Solti. Lee Lichimer, choir librarian might
be able to point you in that general direction. I believe London recording
is where the music is listed. Have fun.
You might consider contacting the Beerkshire Choral Festival in
Sheffield. MAss, every year a major conductor comes in for a week and
does a twop hour concert of operachoruses/excerpts. They may be able to
fix you up w/ some past programs or be able to tell you a listing of
where you can find pas programs.
I would suggest "Anthem For Spring" adapted from Cavelleria Rusticana.
Also, the Pilgrim's Chorus from "Tannhauser" used to be available in
print. dont know if it is still. Good Luck!
The Rutter collection "Opera Choruses" (Oxford U Press) is a very good one.
The Los Angeles Master Chorale recently used it for their concert of opera
choruses, and I am currently using their copies for our performance this
coming March. Whereas we are performing the pieces with their piano
reductions (which are very good), in the preface to the edition it states:
"Clear, accurate scores and orchestral parts of every item of this
have been newly typeset and are availavble from the publisher."
Of course the question is (particularly with Oxford) at what cost?
If you are trying to s-t-r-e-t-c-h your music dollars, you might consider
contacting the L.A. Master Chorale, Rae McDonald production manager, at
213-972-7282 to see about rental. They charge 1/2 the purchase price (but
I'm not certain regarding their policy for out of area rentals). Hope this
has been of some help.
Bob - The Rutter collection to which you refer is a fine collection and
Oxford does indeed publish "newly typeset" orchestral parts available on
rental from that publisher. I gladly post this info to the list as Susan
Brailove of Oxford Music has graciously provided this elegant collection for
inclusion in the packet for next weeks Univ/College reading session at
the Eastern Division Convention of the ACDA in Phil.
The publication of the orchestral materials for the concomittant
choruses will certainly make the mounting of a program of opera choruses
much more practical. Good luck with your program!! Pat Gardner