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June 24, 2014

Hello Musical Theatre mavens!

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, but later this summer you can expect 3 rough guides from me: This season I Music Directed Light in The Piazza, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial By Jury and another early G&S show,The Sorcerer. You can expect my usual painfully long run-down of every little thing I discovered about each of those shows, which I hope will prove useful to you in some small way.

For now, though, I am deep in the weeds as I complete another 4 year long project: restoring Victor Herbert’s grand opera Natoma, which will be heard in a reading in a couple of weeks in its original 1911 form for the first time in over 100 years. This project has brought me to the Library of Congress 3 times as I painstakingly entered all the notes and markings of the original score into the computer to build a brand new set of performable parts and score. I think it’s safe to say that Natoma, although a flawed work, is the most important and significant American Opera before Porgy and Bess, and even with mixed reviews, it successfully toured the United States in 1912 and was the first American Opera to be brought into a second season. Victor Herbert’s scoring of the work is really a thing of great beauty and subtlety, and I’m delighted that we’ll finally be able to hear it as he originally intended it.

For now though, I’m extracting parts day and night for a 650 page score of an orchestra that originally numbered over 70 players. Wish me luck, and look for those posts as soon as I emerge from the ‘note mines’! Happy music making!

-Peter Hilliard

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