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Opera: Opera choruses for audience sing-alongs




Dear Choralist,

A few weeks ago I asked for suggestions for a sing-along opera
chorus. Our audiences seem to love sing-along opportunities. In
addition to our carol-sing at our Christmas concerts, I try to work
creative sing-along moments into the rest of our season. Last
spring, for example, we had the audience help us test-drive a descant
we were about to use for "America the Beautiful" at Commencement.

I got twenty-seven replies! And my conclusion is that everyone
else's audiences read music and are fluent in Italian.

Many people recommended:

"Va pensiero" (Verdi, _Nabucco_). Actually, our choir is singing that.

"Drinking Song" from La Traviata. Our choir is singing that too.

"Toreador song" form "Carmen."

"When I was a lad" from "HMS Pinafore."

"Humming chorus" from "Madame Butterfly."


Some people recommended:

'When a felon's not engaged in his employment' from Pirates of Penzance

"Oh, We're Goin Around" from _Treemonisha_.

Prayer from Hansel and Gretel

Anvil Chorus (Verdi, _Il trovatore_)

"Dance a Cachucha" from _The Gondoliers_

"Make Our Garden Grow" from _Candide_

"You and I" from _Die Fledermaus_.

_Tannhauser_.


James Baldwin recommends most of the Rutter book of opera choruses.

Cindy Pribble offers:
>Stouthearted Men - shoot - let the women sing too. (Romberg, "The New Moon")
>Merry Widow Waltz or Maxim's - (Lehar, The Merry Widow)
>I'm Called Litle Buttercup, We Sail the Ocean Blue (G&S, Pinafore)
>Summertime - everyone knows it - just pitch it in a lower key.
>My Hero - can't remember where from - "Student Prince?"
>Without a Song - Vincent Youmans (actually on cusp of operetta/musical
>theater - "Great Day", 1929)
>Yours Is My Heart Alone - Lehar? Friml?

Samual Black suggests:
>How about a couple of tunes with short story from The Student Prince?
>
>Whether the audience could read a melody line, like the slaves' chorus from
>Nabuco, or a couple of the love ditties from Mozart's Figaro,. . . .


David Schildkret suggests:
>...What about the "Anvil Chorus"? That's rather
>familiar, and it could be fun.
>
>Then there is "With Cat-Like Tread" from "Pirates of Penzance."...
>that prominently features the tune we all sing to the words
>"Hail, hail the gang's all here," and that might be a bit hilarious!

C. E. Findley writes:

>If you give them the words,a lot of people 'know' the Toreador
>chorus from 'Carmen' or 'La Donna e Mobile' from "Rigoletto".
> OR if you're doing something from 'Fledermause', the whole Orlofsky
>Party interlude is a chance to do any number of things (if you've
>every seen it done by a major company on New year's Eve, they bring
>out politicians, comedians, poetry readings, piano, kazoo, anything
>goes).
> If you want to invest a little(?) time at the beginninig, there is
>that round in 'Peter Grimes' something like, 'old joe has gone
>fishing and ___ has gone____", I think it's in 5/4 or something, but
>if you had some of your singers leading each of the sections and
>maybe putting some simple movement to it- it could be a riot.

Noel Ancell says:

>You may want to look at Malcolm Williamson's "Cassations" for audience.
>These are pieces written for last-night-at-the-Proms-style concerts. The
>best is _The Stone Wall_, portraying the age-old conflict between Scots and
>English. Very good fun, performable by audience with almost no rehearsal.
>It and the othjers (_The Snow Wolf_, _Genesis_, _Knights in shining armour_
>and _The Moonrakers_) are all published by Joseph Weinberger.

John Jost urges:

>You should ask Ben Alloway to send you a copy of his
>(unpublished) El Reggio Sendero. It is a 5' work in both English and
>Spanish which features four male solos and choir, with a short, easy
>refrain in Spanish that the audience sings along with the choir.

John Tute says:

>In Strauss' The Gypsy Baron (Der Zigeuner Baron) there's a great Tenor aria
>called "Als Flotter Geist" which has one of those great choruses where he
>sings it through and then the whole chorus sings it back again. Its quite
>fun and could be perfect with regards to not having to teach it to the
>audience. If they had the text printed in their programmes they could just
>sing back the tune that they hear from him.
>
>I think there are 3 verses so there's lots of opportunity to sing along, and
>it certainly lends itself to a "one more time" chorus at the end.
>
>If you have a Tenor soloist this could be quite fun.


Thanks for all these suggestions! I'm not sure what I think I'm
going to do, but I think I'll start by looking into "Stout-Hearted
Men." I like the thought that people will be surprised to learn that
it is from an "opera." (Well, operetta.)

If you do a Google search on "Stout-Hearted Men" you get an
interesting variety of hits.

Thanks again,

Nina Gilbert