mini opera by Beth Wiemann. Lindsay Connolly, mezzo-soprano, Simon Docking, pianist. Based on an old folk song, collected by Helen Creighton.
Charlotte is looking at herself in a mirror, wearing a better-than-average prom dress and primping. There's a fancy scarf draped over the mirror, for use later.
The opening of the work is addressed to the audience.
At different times in the piece, she sings the original folk song as a contrast with her own modern-day situation. Lighting may be used to define these sections of the work as being in a different environment from the opening section.
Look at my dress, isn't it great? Meant for the spring. Got it on sale.. ..You can't wear this kind of thing.. Very refined, very lightweight. I can't help it if it suits me! Dad hasn't seen it. Or Mom. Have to wear sandals, Mustn’t wear boots, Should be fine with the right transportation.
New Year's party! Charles drives us down, All fifteen miles. Maybe in a limo!
Charlotte alters her appearance, enters a trance as she quotes the folk song about her namesake.
One New Year's Eve as the sun went down She looked a wistful eye
Along the crowded window forth as the merry sleighs went by.
Restless was her watchful eye till his well-known voice she heard,
Young Charles in a sleigh appeared.
A sleigh? A sleigh?
Oh, how romantic! Of course, it's the best! Oh! Look, Mom! It's like a fairy tale.
We'll make such an en-trance! It's like a fairy tale with my dress all flowing, flowing, flowing around me. It'll be such a picture, Such a contrast, The dress and the white snow,
Back in a trance, but rushing
"O Charlotte dear," her mother cried, "Those blankets round you fold, for it is a bitter cold night, a bitter cold night. And you'll catch your death of cold."
Oh no, mama! Not on your life! Won't have my dress covered up! But I have a good scarf, it's pretty and silk. That'll be enough! And it makes a good impression! Come on, Charles, Let's go! Out of this dreary old house! There'll be music in those merry bells, in the sleigh, in the sleigh..
Charlotte moves to a chair representing the sleigh, motions as though getting in next to Charles.
She wraps her scarf more tightly around herself.
Such a night as this we ne'er did see, The reins he scarce could hold. Young Charlotte spoke with a feeble voice, "I am exceeding cold." Five miles down.
Charles cracked the whip, he urged his steed much faster than before, Until another five miles around in silence they passed o'er.
The snow is sticking to me! Am I getting warmer? Maybe if I let the snow cover me. It will cover me. Ten miles down. over the hills, And through the vales, and out to the star-light!
Where are we? How far? I hear the music.
Charlotte becomes more immobile.
I see Charles get out, and offer his hand. And here I sit, And have no power to stand.
Lights suddenly change -
Charlotte makes sudden motion off the "sleigh," as though she has left her own body.
She addresses the audience up close, but often looks back at the "sleigh."
I can't feel the snow, I can't feel the air, I see Charles look at me, I'm frozen in place.
I don't know what's next. I can't hear the music!
Charlotte gestures back at the sleigh, while speaking to the audience.
I look so shiny. I stand in the light!
Look at me. Look at me, People will remember me! I'll be famous! Forever!
Look at me!