San Francisco's Burning: A Ballad Opera

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9780914610335: San Francisco's Burning: A Ballad Opera

Fiction. Audiences throughout the country have heard Helen Adam perform songs from SAN FRANCISCO'S BURNING, a ballad opera both richly comic and darkly mysterious. Now, Hanging Loose Press is pleased to publish the first complete edition of the play, with the full text by Miss Adam and her sister, Pat, the full score by Al Carmines, and drawings by Jess.

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About the Author:

Helen Adam (b. December 2, 1909 in Glasgow, Scotland - d. September 19, 1993 in New York City) was an American poet, collagist and photographer who was an active participant in The San Francisco Renaissance, a literary movement contemporaneous to the Beat Generation that occurred in San Francisco during the 1950s and 1960s. Though often associated with the Beat poets, she would more accurately be considered one of the predecessors of the Beat Generation. She was 82 when she died.

Review:

San Francisco's Burning is a unique, bizarre, and altogether beguiling ballad opera by poet Helen Adam, with the help of her sister Pat. According to the preface, the work was written in the late fifties and given its premiere in San Francisco in 1961, with music by Warner Jepson. Its first New York production took place in 1967, with new music by off-Broadway composer Al Carmines. The opera has also been broadcast on radio, and an earlier version was published in book form. The present illustrated edition includes revisions made by the author over the years and reprints all of Carmines' music, along with selected ballads set to traditional music. A plot synopsis cannot do justice to its rich parade of characters representing a cross-section of turn-of-the-century San Francisco society-wealthy matrons, eligible debutantes, dapper gentlemen, sincere reformers, tarts, sailors, and even an oft-married murderess. Presiding over the goings-on are two automatons of Puss-in-Boots and the Egyptian god Anubis, sometimes just watching silently and other times musically commenting on the humans'follies. An otherworldly touch is provided by the Worm Queen, ruler of the dead, who is eventually bested by the indomitable Mrs. Mackie Rhodus, dowager extraordinaire. Adam weaves elements of mythology, the occult, cabaret, and social satire into her opera. None of the characters seems fleshed out, but this fits in well with the fantastic, not-quite-real atmosphere. When San Francisco finally burns at the very end of the work, evil is vanquished and true love blossoms. Mrs. Mackie Rhodus, no more than moderately annoyed by the "troublesome fire," retains the social position from which no mere earthquake could topple her and comments that, no matter what happens, "We'll still have Grace Cathedral,/ And crumpets and cream at Blum's."She is a San Francisco original, and so is this opera. -- From Independent Publisher

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Helen Adam
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ISBN 10: 0914610333 ISBN 13: 9780914610335
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Book Description Hanging Loose Press, 1985. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 1st edition. 439 pages. 9.00x6.25x1.00 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # 0914610333

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