No One Mourns the Wicked

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"No One Mourns the Wicked"
Song by Kristin Chenoweth and chorus
from the album Wicked
Released December 16, 2003
Recorded November 10, 2003
Genre Showtunes
Label Decca Broadway
Songwriter(s) Stephen Schwartz

"No One Mourns the Wicked" is the opening musical number performed in the hit Broadway musical Wicked, composed by Stephen Schwartz.

Context[edit]

"No One Mourns the Wicked" eventually becomes a musical motif throughout Wicked, but is introduced in its main form as the show's prologue. Following the overture, the citizens of Oz (mostly Munchkins) emerge, joyously celebrating the death (by melting) of The Wicked Witch of the West. The song introduces the audience to the character of Glinda, who appears to be celebrating her death along with the others. However, her verses of the song seem to be an attempt to create sympathy toward the Witch. "And goodness knows/the wicked's lives are lonely/goodness knows the wicked die alone" (this is most likely to show her capacity as "good" as opposed to actually publicly defend the Witch). It is here that Glinda poses the question, "Are people born wicked, or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?" She takes the audience through a flashback to the Witch's birth, showing how she was conceived illegitimately, born green-skinned (after her mother drank a potion simply called "Green Elixir"), and consequently rejected by her father and cursed to a difficult childhood. The main events of the show occur through another flashback immediately following this song's conclusion.

The song is reprised in several parts during the show, including the act one finale, "Defying Gravity" (Look at her, she's Wicked, get her! No One Mourns the Wicked! So we've got to bring her... Down!) and the entr'acte. Glinda's "Goodness Knows" verse is also shortly reprised by the company offstage directly before Elphaba's last stand and eventual "melting". It is also briefly sung in the show's finale, as the show's ending occurs chronologically at about the same time as its opening.

The opening few notes of the song serve as a leitmotif, referred to by some as the Wicked Witch of the West motif. We hear it later in this very song during the flashback sequence in which Glinda recounts Elphaba's birth. This motif is repeated (though slightly altered) at the beginning of 'As Long as You're Mine' and in a climactic point in 'No Good Deed'. 'Defying Gravity' also makes use of the leitmotif at the very end.

Also the tune for this song is played and sung at the beginning of 'Thank Goodness'. This song is tonal.

Development[edit]

This was the second song Stephen Schwartz created for Wicked, after the unused song "Making Good". Its context changed a great deal as workshop tryouts continued. It began originally as a television reporter speaking about Elphaba's death, then interviewing the scarecrow, who sang the song's main theme. At this point, the scarecrow subplot had not been added and Glinda's role was much smaller. However, when Kristin Chenoweth joined the project, Glinda's role was expanded and so it was determined that she would be involved in the opening number. Schwartz also wanted to utilize Chenoweth's high soprano, so he created an extra counterpoint for Chenoweth to sing in the song.