“I like your opera – I think I will set it to music.” Beethoven



“the world is round….”

The+World+is+Round+RehearsalOpera in Madeleine, paris



Music by Robert Moran
Libretto/text by Gertrude Stein

an opera commissioned and premiered by  The Philadelphia Boys Choir
and men’s voices with an accompaniment- violin, clarinet/bass cl, horn, string bass, percussion,
piano and harp

Conducted by Maestro Jeff Smith

Once upon a time the world was round and you could go on it around and around.
Everywhere there was somewhere and everywhere there they were:
men, women, children, dogs, cows, cats, pigs and so many more
That is the way it was.

Day One

And then there was Rose
Rose was her name and she would have been Rose if her name had not been Rose.
I tell you at this time the world was all round and you could go on it around and around.

Day One even later

Rose and her big white dog named Love sang songs together.   When Rose began to sing she began to cry which she loved to do.  And when she cried Love lifted his head and looked up at the sky and he began to cry and he and Rose and Rose and he cried and cried and cried until she stopped.   And all this time the world just continued to be round.

Early Evening

Rose had a cousin named Willie who loved to sing.  He sang:
My name is Willie I am not like Rose
I would be Willie even without my nose,
Willie always Willie all the same.

Then Willie saw the moon and it was round.

Day Two at School

There at the school the teachers taught her
That the world was round
That the sun
That the moon
That the stars were round
And that they were all going around and around with not a sound.

Later that day: a funny place

Willie went with his father to a little place where they sold animals.
They were not always sold there
But they were always there.
Everybody had them.

Willie’s father went to get one.  Which one, that was for Willie to say.

It was funny seeing wild animals in a boat, one wild animal
in a rowing boat
in a sail boat, in a motor boat.

It was a funny place this town.

Willie hoped he would have one wild animal.  Willie asked himself:  but which one?

Willie got a lion, not a very little one.  Willie was so excited he almost stopped singing but as soon as he saw his own lion again he began singing again.  Then Willie said Rose loves lions so I will give her my lion.

Rose loved the lion she named Billie.
Rose said I cannot keep Billie the lion at school
and he is not my favorite color blue.
So outside the school was a man with a drum and on a bicycle and he was drumming when Rose gave him her lion and she had tears in her eyes.
She sang
Dear Willie
I hope the lion goes home to you.

Day Three

Then Rose saw a mountain.  She sang
Dear mountain tall mountain blue mountain
is my mountain
I will with my chair come climbing and once there
I will be there.

And then she looked at one mountain
and it had a top with a point
where Rose would put her blue chair and she would sit there.

And she was climbing that mountain with her chair.  She went on climbing higher and higher and higher

She did see a lovely tree and she thought
Yes it is round but
all around it I am going to cut
Rose is a Rose is a Rose is a Rose is a
until it went all the way around.
Suppose she said it would not go around
but she knew it would go around.

One Minute Later

Rose took her chair and climbed higher and higher and heard a bell and saw the sun shining.
And Rose saw blue and she saw green
and she kept on climbing until she saw violet and other colors.  She was climbing through a rainbow and Rose was there.   She was all alone on the top of everything and she was sitting there and singing
Am I here or am I there
Am I asleep or am I awake
eating butter and cake

That Night a Light

Well it was night and night can be all night and Rose knew that.

And then just then what was it,
it was not lightning
it was not a moon
it was not a shooting star.

It was a light and oh so bright.
And there it was way off on another mountain
and it went round and round and it went all around

And it was a search light and it was on a further hill and it was Willie her cousin on the other hill and he made the light go around and around.

Rose began to sing:  And I am here and you are there and everywhere oh Will on a hill
sang Rose.  The search light went round and round and round.

Will and Rose were not cousins
They turned out not to be cousins
just how nobody knows and so they married and had
children and sang with them and cried with them
and the lived happily ever after
and the world just went on being round.


(August-September 2010)

a short chamber opera in
five acts and four murders

Music by Robert Moran
Libretto ‘after’ Gertrude Stein

Written for and Dedicated to
Dan Moore
and the
Iowa Percussion

For solo soprano, alto, tenor and bass/baritone
voices, and a large percussion ensemble
divided into five ‘stations’ (approximately ten

Charlotte Benson Music Publ. (BMI)

Act I

Tutti:    Let me say it here; here let me say it!
Once more to be told that I called Miriam “Miriam”.
She gave an address.  She was distressed.
It is very likely that nearly everyone has been very nearly certain
that something is here, but in my head?

Soprano and Alto:

Do they know what they save?  Do they?

Tenor and Bass:

Please ask them to arrange folds so that folding is at once understood.
Do you hear him?
He did it very well.  Now that it is best to be and say and do and leave
and how and now.

Act 2

Tutti:   When Harry and Frank and Paul and James and John and Robert and
this and that, and this and for that and nobody knows.

Alto:   All is forgive.  (The tenor pulls out a pistol and shoots her…she continues:)
Come and kiss me when you want to because if you do you have more than
done that.  I am obliged with delight.

Bass: Welcome is as welcome does!  He was a father and a father was a son and
yet another father and son.  Annoyed yet do they realise that?

Alto:   Who can be shorter than that?  With whom.

Tutti:   Perhaps coffee, perhaps sugar, perhaps fish and perhaps hurry.

Tenor:   We sent a message about ham and cheese and afterwards were obliged.
Again and again.

Act 3

Soprano:   Daily daily every day.  There are two kinds of liars, the kind that lie
and the kind that don’t lie are no good.  Remember windows that has
nothing to do with windows or remembering windows!  (She stabs the
bass with a knife)

Tutti:      When all this time after all in the course of conversation after all.
And all this time after all in all and as all had he learned to be seated.
Very well meant.

Bass:    Who loves roses.  They do.  We do.  (the other three singers applaud him)
Fine again.    Never more in praise.  First and best never to be mistaken for
most and best.

Tutti:     Why does everybody like it better?

Act 4

Alto and Tenor:    Begin now!    Ida and Myrtle, Ivy Ida and Myrtle, and Ida each one
of them and all could they be told that there home was at a time
when they were willing to see Edward (Alto hands Tenor a
poisoned drink; he drinks; he dies)

Tenor:    The first difference is a tree as a place.  The second difference is a tree and         a place.

Tutti:      The little little little boat perhaps.  This is as moderate as ever.  She smiled to see Robert see and did he see to see and season.

Soprano:  How can more please her?

Tenor:      I salute anyone who wishes to engage someone who will be reliable,
courteous and efficient.
Act 5

Alto:  They had not stayed very likely….

Soprano:  because at this time they were able to carry out the intention….

Tenor:    ….which they had had when it seemed possible to make it seem more possilbe.

Tutti:    May we ask her to make it for us?  This is what is what is what is not as much
why they must be sure to do it do it do it to be sure, to be sure to do it.

Bass:   It is beginning to commend again.

Alto:    Leaving and leaving  and having been and not as much….

Tutti:   And all of Scotland has been known to be divided between this and why they meant to be all.   A relief to be a relief to sink or swim.
Let us be seated!

Fast curtain!!


Your Pig Is Dead!

an opera in ten minutes

Music-Robert Moran
Libretto-Gertrude Stein

for four solo voices (SATB) or
small chorus
with an ensemble of piccolo,
harpsichord (cembalo), one piano (four hands)
percussion (1-2 players)

© Charlotte Benson Music Publ.
PO Bos 54202
Philadelphia, PA 19105

Your pig is dead
He sits on a stump
Pig, our pig is dead
Yes, your pig is dead.
He sits on a stump
Now that the miserable little French army
is demobilized, and one of your
rabbits died of some kind of rabbit disease
he fed it to the pig and the pig is dead!

You beast!
if you were not my husband and going to be the father of my child, I would kill you!  You beast.  The pig cost so much
and now what will we eat. oh you beast.

Oh Georges, there you are.
I do like the way a Frenchman is a workman and a farmer.
You don’t know which
Most anywhere a workman is a workman
And a farmer a farmer
how can I tell are you a workman today or a farmer?

It looks like a teapot.
What was the funny kind of train I just saw passing?
It looks like a teapot with that funny cover on it.
Oh Georges, there you are.
It will pull out and then you can just be natural
be  natural and it will pull out.  Oh Georges. What a funny kind of train I just saw passing?
Let somebody who wants to know know that it has pulled out,
any minute now.

Two authors.  Rabbits are eaten. Dogs eat rabbits. Snails
eat leaves.
Expression falters.
Wild flowers drink.
A photograph.
When to be used to it or plant of clouds and definite trees are among enduring it being covered with a cloud by reason of failure in liking to turn back on the view.
View point.  Act on in measuring.   Photograph.
Follow an example. A work of pure imagination in which no
reminiscences intrude.

(At this climatic moment in the opera, something rather strange might
happen…..the entire stage has slowly become quite dark…and a trap-
door opens.  Brilliant white light comes from the opening.  The four
characters look down into the open space (the radiating light illuminating
their faces), and appearing most curious.  At the conclusion of the music,
all light is extinguished…..Curtain!)


Whether Standing or Sitting

a chamber opera

Music by Robert Moran
Libretto by Gertrude Stein

for four soloists (SATB) or
small chorus
clarinet/bass clarinet
piano (4 hands)
percussion (timpani, chimes,
vibraphone, temple blocks, tam)

© Charlotte Benson Music Publ.
PO Box 54202
Philadelphia, PA 19105

What do they want that is what does anybody want to know
just anybody and do they want to know what they do want to know
or do they only think so only think they want to know
what they do want to know?
Not if you know it or play it.

A play is mastered by which we arrange this….there may be many who add yet to yes. Yet!  There is no YET in Paradise.

What is a play? Paradise?  No but not to guess. Yes, this which I wish to know I do know.  In one way, one can act alone.  A play states that if they like we will come and leave a day.
I was about to go not somewhere but anywhere and one of my neighbors said to me Mademoiselle, go where, I am an old man and I tell you in time of danger stay where you are.  There if you are killed you know where you are and you are there, if you live through it you are still there, there where you are.
What do we do when we do not do what we do?

It is not dark and the weather was not clear and the sunshie was not gloomy and the color was not read…and the window was not open and the stove was not shut and the table was set.  All the time is dark and there is a light and the time to think is the time to paint and the grey blue purple is the red rose color and the pink white cover is the fine broken china.

She went sent with sent went and sent went with them made it have it with it as it is with it sent!

I join the choir that is visible because the choir that is visible is as visible as what?
As visible as visible.



Music by Robert Moran
Text by Gertrude Stein

Commissioned by Marianna Collins

A ten-minute opera, written as a gift for a friend, is scored for:
men’s chorus, piano (4 hands), l percussion

This plotless work is a short, virtuoso piece for the chorus or four solo male voices.



Sweet.  Joy.  My.  Baby.

Always found.   Just there.  Good.  So good.  Always.

Six, Seven, Eight, Nine.

Close the door. Fine.

You.  Are.  Mine.

Tea behold.  My lovely says. If the soiling carries the

head.  If the baking measures the pint.   Tea and Tempest.

See for seasons.   Again my lovely says.

I understand and I say.   I understand him to say that I

see him.   I say I see him or I say that I say that I understand.

To understand I see him.  I see him.

Act I.

Come to sing and sit.

Act II.

Repeat it.

Act III.

I repeat it.

Remember him to me.  Remember and speak quickly and cough.

Act I.

The dog.  Remember quickly.  You mean pale.  Paler yet in

dark brown.

Can you explain my wishes going nowhere.

Act II.   In the morning.

Act III.   To me.  When this you see.

Act IV.

On there.  Yes in there.  Paler yet in dark brown wishes.

Clean her wishes and have noble tea behold.

Done as if done so very done.  And good day.

And good bye.


So Suddenly a War

Text fragments by Gertrude Stein

for solo soprano, alto, tenor, bass voices (or small SATB chorus)

oboe, harp, string quartet, organ


a chamber opera of approximately ten minutes


Music-Robert Moran

Text/fragments from the works of Gertrude Stein


for SATB voices, oboe, harp, string quartet, organ


There are very many to visit,  and with it as they might sojourn! research and plan and plunder and isolate and depend and identify and withdraw the  thoughts of the day!

very hastily light candles; let them see the way; let me bend winter’s cold fires


If there has been a disappearance I then ask

what is an illuminant

Tis a pause in the breathe


A meadow is to be green….at times so green

It is to be used as pasture as clover as a road and as a better image to  send her should she ask.


there is a profession which is a difference between a procession and a thing to be seen between and between.  movement as softly as a shadow can be a delightful caress, my dear


Simon told Theresa he could and would would would and could could and would would would and could could did and could would.  He would if he were not to be taught


He made it be.

No silence. That moment so frozen and so soft

There was not that hesitation and this was not all there


the sounds were not so loud but that they might be hearing. from across the lake so frozen


This was not the half of all the time.  They rest and speak of now.

What did she say.

I don’t mean to say that i am vexed.

Oh no indeed you are not to be blamed

not at all…..for pleasure.  for our pleasure.  oh yes indeed. We  need you. More than ever

What did she say.


I am glad we are not cold, not here.  Believe me Believe in me.   I do.

and now this time there are going to be five dogs who do not bay at the moon, and the fifth one does not matter neither does any other one.  It is thought that they do not bark at the moon .  Why are you asking? What did she say.

In this scene the earth is to be covered over all over and the dogs are not to bay at the moon.

Suddenly there is a war.

all at once

He will never be troubled by a war.  Not any more.

Distant in light, soft grey and stroked. Distant in wonder to wander not any more.


Notes concerning the libretto and any production:

I composed this short work for  sheer pleasure.  My other short mini-operas are much more ‘robust’ and ‘percussive’ in temperament; I wanted this one to be ‘a lyrical addition’ to this collection.

This libretto was changed ever so slightly during the composing of the work.  The original version minus changes is what is read here.  As there is no plot, no theatrical ‘realizations’ given:  this work, I would hope and would assume, should be a director’s ‘dream’….the visual ‘realization’ is up to the director and his/her fantasies about this score.   It does suggest a ‘landscape’ of some sad qualities, of reflection, of impending ‘gloom’, of four characters ‘in search of a direction’.

Although this work was written with four solo voices in mind, it may easily be adapted to a small SATB chorus….OR the four soloists plus chorus.

Robert Moran

March 31, 2005

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