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Fruit Punch:
Young Caesar: A Puppet Opera by Lou Harrison

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Item Type: Sound Recording Duration: 159 min
Event Type: Music Program Origin: KPFA

Additional Media Files (click to view)

On December 25, 1974, as a Christmas special, the Fruit Punch Collective presented a recording of the 1971 world premiere performance of Lou Harrison’s gay-oriented opera, “Young Caesar”. The story of the opera explores the meeting, and purported subsequent love affair, between the young Julius Caesar and King Nicomedes IV of Bithynia. In addition to desiring to write an opera with a homosexual theme, Harrison was also attracted to the story about Caesar and Nicomedes because it represented the meeting between East and West. Building upon that theme the musical score calls for a variety of Eastern instruments including gamelan, and rather than using real actors, puppets and shadow figures were utilized instead, much as they are in Indonesia. The homoerotic nature of the story was made quite evident in such scenes as the ballet of puppet phalli, a point that needed to be advertised in advance so as to prevent some from thinking this was a puppet show meant for children. At the end of this program Lou Harrison and his partner and collaborator William Colvig are interviewed by members of the Fruit Punch Collective in which the opera, Harrison’s experiences as a gay man growing up in San Francisco, and as his interest in different tuning systems are all discussed.

Part 1 of 3:  
Musical Selections:  Young Caesar: Act 1 [libretto by Robert Gordon] (1971) (56:37) / Lou Harrison
Performers:  Milton Williams, narrator
Lawrence Boyle, Caesar
Marvin Klebe, Nicomedes
Andrea Hughes, Aunt Julia & Cornelia
Steve Varrio (sp?), various roles
Lou Harrison, various instruments
William Colvig, various instruments
Richard Dee, various instruments
Daniel Kobialka, various instruments
Robert Hughes, various instruments
Genres:  Opera; New Music
Subject:  Caesar, Julius; Nicomedes IV Philopator, King of Bithynia, d. 74 B.C.; New music; Operas; Gamelan music
People:  Melnick, David, 1938- ; Harrison, Lou, 1917-2003; Gordon, Robert; Williams, Milton, 1936- ; Boyle, Lawrence; Klebe, Marvin; Hughes. Andrea; Colvig, William ; Dee, Richard; Kobialka, Daniel; Hughes, Robert, 1933-
First Broadcast Date:  12/25/1974
 
Part 2 of 3:  
Musical Selections:  Young Caesar: Act 2 [libretto by Robert Gordon] (1971) (63:00) / Lou Harrison
Performers:  Milton Williams, narrator
Lawrence Boyle, Caesar
Marvin Klebe, Nicomedes
Andrea Hughes, Aunt Julia & Cornelia
Steve Varrio (sp?), various roles
Lou Harrison, various instruments
William Colvig, various instruments
Richard Dee, various instruments
Daniel Kobialka, various instruments
Robert Hughes, various instruments
Genres:  Opera; New Music
Subject:  Caesar, Julius; Nicomedes IV Philopator, King of Bithynia, d. 74 B.C.; New music; Operas; Gamelan music
People:  Harrison, Lou, 1917-2003; Gordon, Robert; Williams, Milton, 1936- ; Boyle, Lawrence; Klebe, Marvin; Hughes. Andrea; Colvig, William ; Dee, Richard; Kobialka, Daniel; Hughes, Robert, 1933-
First Broadcast Date:  12/25/1974
 
Part 3 of 3:  
Genres:  Opera; New Music
Subject:  Harrison, Lou, 1917-2003; New music; Opera; Homosexuality; Gay composers; Musical intervals and scales
People:  Melnick, David, 1938- ; Harrison, Lou, 1917-2003; Colvig, William
First Broadcast Date:  12/25/1974
 
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