Pooch (the musical)

Thursday, May 7th, 2009 8:19 AM EDT


"Entrancing... Suspenseful... His score atmospherically imagines the antique and gothic."
American Record Guide
"Attractive neo-Romantic music. His vocal lines are lyrical. His writing for orchestra, too, is beautiful."
The New York Times
"Maximum drama. Melodically memorable. An auspicious debut for Eyerly as an opera composer."
Opera News
LISTEN: Act I opening
LISTEN: Garden Quartet (1)
LISTEN: Garden Quartet (2)
LISTEN: Campaign Song
LISTEN: Song of the Rose
LISTEN: Clifford/Jaffrey confrontation (1)
LISTEN: Clifford/Jaffrey confrontation (2)
In the gloomy, haunted House of Seven Gables, Hepzibah Pyncheon cares for her brother, Clifford. Once brilliant, Clifford is now feeble, having languished in prison 30 years for committing murder. But is he guilty? Was he framed by his cousin Jaffrey, today an eminent judge? As Clifford regains strength, aided by his young cousin Phoebe, and a mysterious boarder, Holgrave, he prepares for the final confrontation with Jaffrey.
Threatening all is the curse, 'GOD WILL GIVE YOU BLOOD TO DRINK!' Centuries before, the Pyncheons' house was built on stolen ground. Ever since, the family history has been riddled with unexplained deaths, foreshadowed when the harpsichord plays by itself. Now the final chapter of that history is written.
Read a synopsis.
Awarded an NEA grant to begin writing the opera, Eyerly spent a summer in Salem, Massachusetts, where the actual House of Seven Gables stands. He remarks, "I'm a great believer in 'place.' Though the story is fictional, it's set in a real house, which the author sometimes visited." But Eyerly got more than he bargained for: one night he was allowed to sleep in the House itself!
Read Eyerly's account of his night in the House of Seven Gables.
"Lovely arias... Elegant ensembles... Eyerly also did a good job with the final confrontation."
The Wall Street Journal
"It's a thrilling story. The five principals receive excellent parts. Eyerly's music is tonal; he writes engaging melodies."
Crescendo (Berlin)
"Eyerly's libretto moves along briskly, and cuts Hawthorne's dourness with occasional humorous touches."
The New York Times
"His music projects much of the mystery and anxiety of Hawthorne's novel. It is also remarkably singable."
The Toronto Star
"Clear narrative. The set pieces are well-placed."
Opera News

"A shapely, sensuous new American opera. Eyerly wrote his own dramatically viable libretto. His instrumentation is lush or creepy, as warranted. Genuine moments of spookiness and budding romance seep through the ring of family conflicts."
American Record Guide
Hepzibah Pyncheon, owner of the house (Mezzo-soprano)
Clifford Pyncheon, her brother (Tenor)
Jaffrey Pyncheon, cousin to Hepzibah and Clifford (Baritone)
Phoebe Pyncheon, young cousin to all the above (Soprano)
Holgrave, a boarder in the house (Bass)
Ensemble of 16 or more, whose members serve as chorus and also take small roles.
2-2-2-2, 2-2-2-1, Timpani, Percussion (1 player), Harp, Strings.
Gables is in three acts, though only one intermission is needed, between I and II. There are two settings: House interior (Acts I and III) and Garden (Act II). In the premiere production, the set change between II and III took place in view of the audience.


A musical comedy work-in-progress, based on true events.
Setting: modern day Manhattan.
Question: In a world of giant corporations, can one find love, success, a lost dog - and Puccini?
A musical theater piece conceived for amateur choruses and community theater groups. Based on Appalachian folklore. Commissioned by Philip Morris Companies, Inc., originally for the Philip Morris Chorale, which performed the world premiere at Town Hall, New York, conducted by Rebecca Scott and directed by the composer.
LISTEN: A Child of Mine
LISTEN: Highest Hill
The simple story of a young man who must choose between life in his mountain community, versus a new life in the "flatlands," is graced with colorful scenes such as a tall-tale contest, a church service, a quilting bee and a (rigged) Election Day. Generous passages of the score feature chorus. A small number of principal roles, requiring more developed singing and acting skills, are augmented by many small roles taken from the chorus, allowing for a range of talents to be displayed. Spoken dialogue scenes alternate with musical numbers.
Highlights include "Fiddler's Tale," a ghost story about learning to play violin in a graveyard (spoken monologue); "A Child of Mine," a mother's plea to her son as he contemplates leaving home (solo song); "But the Land is Just Gone," a ballad about the ravages of mining (male quartet); "A Fire and a Quilt," an ensemble number depicting women as they sew and trade gossip (female octet); and "We Will Learn Our Lesson Well," a sweeping hymn for the entire community.
On Blue Mountain may be performed with either small orchestra, or with piano and violin (the latter needed for one number). The orchestra consists of 12 players: 1 flute, 1 oboe, 1 clarinet, 1 bassoon, 2 horns, string quartet with double bass, and piano.