John the Baptist
By Frederick Frahm. Libretto in English and Latin adapted by the composer from the Gospels of St. Luke and St. John and the Vita di Sancto Giovanni Baptista by Lucrezia Tornabuoni de Medici (1425-1482)
Performance duration: circa 60″
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This work is intended as a dramatic piece to be performed in a church. Concert hall and festival performances are encouraged, however this is ultimately a sacred work and the architectural appointments of a nave and sanctuary will serve to enhance the performance.
There are four solo parts: Mary, Elizabeth, Gabriel, Zechariah. The rôle of John the Baptist may be drawn from the choir. The part of Gabriel, akin to an evangelist role in a Bach Passion, is a substantial part that is present throughout the work. All of the characters and chorus personnel should be located together in the performance space. Solo parts may come forward from the chorus at the appropriate time at the conductor’s discretion. Alternately, actors (who are not members of the chorus) may perform the roles in tableaux at the center of the stage.
Stage directions with regard to action and props are considered at the conductor’s discretion. Essentially, this work seeks to gather musicians (and actors) around a sacred space to tell the story of John the Baptist. Dramatic considerations are encouraged to deepen the storytelling experience for the audience.
The organ required for this work is preferably a three manual instrument in a grand space. If available, a smaller chancel organ may be used for the accompaniments leaving only the voluntaries to be played at the main organ. The voluntaries serve as points of meditation (or overtures) and are played before the commencement of each scene. The final voluntary at the conclusion of scene 6 may also serve as a retiring processional for the ensemble.
The choral parts may be judiciously doubled by the organ although it is preferable that accompaniments are played only where indicated in the score.