Mario & the Magician
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Compelling libretto, masterfully set by Francis Thorne.

Thomas Mann's extraordinary novella Mario and the Magician was written while he was vacationing on the Baltic seacoast, hard at work on his massive novel Joseph and His Brothers. An unpleasant incident that occurred down on the beach inspired Mann to create an ominous allegory about the rise of fascism and the Nazi blight that was beginning to affect Germany at that time. American composer Francis Thorne's interest in Mario goes back to 1963, when he discussed with Mann's daughter, Elizabeth Borgese, the possibility of an opera. Permission was granted, and work began with librettist Chester Kallman, but delays forced inevitable changes. Years later, Thorne would work with J.D. McClatchy (librettist, incidentally, for Tobias Picker's Emmeline [TROY284/5]). The work was premiered March 12, 1994. Thorne himself is part of that great generation of American composers born in the 1920s (others being Donald Erb, Leonard Rosenman, and the late Meyer Kupferman and Jacob Druckman) who came to prominence in the late 1940's and early 1950s, writing strongly accented music often with prominent jazz influences. Thorne's first professional job was as a jazz pianist at New York's famed Hickory House, with Duke Ellington's recommendation. He later studied with David Diamond. His output includes concertos, symphonies, chamber music and songs both "classical" and pop. He was also principal founder of the American Composers Orchestra, and has served on the boards of CRI Records, The Virgil Thomson Foundation and the MacDowell Colony. Mario and the Magician is his only opera.
Francis Thorne, composer
Mario and the Magician
Center for Contemporary Opera, Richard Marshall, conductor, Justin Vickers, Larry Small, Jessica Grigg, Wendy Brown, Richard Cassell

"The music complements the libretto in an effective manner...Thorne writes haunting music that reveals all that is macabre about Cipolla and his world." (American Record Guide)
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