Monday, June 7, 2010

In Memoriam: Jack Beeson 1921-2010

American composer Jack Beeson, who composed 10 operas - including Lizzie Borden for New York City Opera - as well as over 120 other works in his life, died on June 6.

The story of Lizzie Borden is a little on the heinous side ... it is, after all, about the double axe murders of the stepmother and father of Lizzie in Fall River, Massachusetts.

The case was memorialized in a skipping-rope rhyme:
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.
Yes, this rhyme is as outdated as actually skipping rope.

The premiere of Lizzie Borden, obviously Beeson's most famous work, was on March 25, 1965. The cast included Ellen Faull as Abigail Borden, Herbert Beattie as Andrew Borden, Brenda Lewis as Lizzie and Anne Elgar as Lizzie's sister Margret. The stellar cast was conducted by Anton Coppola, the uncle of film director Francis Ford Coppola.

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