Shining Brow is an English language opera by Daron Hagen, first performed by the Madison Opera in Madison, Wisconsin, April 21, 1993. The libretto is by Paul Muldoon, and is based on a treatment co-written with the composer. The story concerns events in the life of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Hagen invited Muldoon to write the libretto while the two were both in residency at the MacDowell Colony, in Peterborough, New Hampshire during the summer of 1989.
- Premiere: April 21, 23, 25, and 27, 1993, by the Madison Opera, Madison, Wisconsin.
- Conductor: Roland Johnson
- Stage director: Stephen Wadsworth
- Set designer: David Birn
- Lighting designer: Christopher Akerlind
- Costume designer: Laura Crow
- The production was broadcast live statewide and subsequently broadcast twice on NPR's World of Opera.
- First staged revival: July 23, 25, 27, 31 and August 2, 1997, by the Chicago Opera Theater, Merle Reskin Theater, Chicago, Illinois.
- Conductor: Lawrence Rapchak
- Stage director: Ken Cazan
- Set designer: Kevin Snow
- Lighting designer: Marcus Dillard
- Costume designer: Jeff Bauer
- First complete concert performance: February 19, 1994, Florida Southern College Chorus, members of the Florida Symphony Orchestra, Lakeland, Florida.
- Conductor: JoAnn Falletta
- Ensemble and chorus supervision: Beverly Wolff
- First concert performance under the composer's direction: February 11-24, 2002, at the UNLV Opera Theater, with members of the Nevada Opera, Ham Concert Hall, UNLV, Las Vegas, Nevada.
- Conductor: Daron Hagen
- Chorus master: David Weiller
- First semi-staged revival: November 4-5, 2006, by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus.
- Conductor: JoAnn Falletta
- Chorus master: L. Brett Scott
- Stage director: Daron Hagen
- First performance of the chamber ("Fallingwater") version: June 7, 2013, by the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, at Fallingwater, Mill Run, Pennsylvania.
- Conductor: Robert Frankenberry
- Stage director: Jonathan Eaton
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast
21 April 1993
(Conductor: Roland Johnson)
|Reduced Orchestration Premiere
23 July 1997
(Conductor: Lawrence Rapchak)
4 November 2006
(Conductor: JoAnn Falletta)
|Chamber "Fallingwater" Version
7 June 2013
(Conductor: Robert Frankenberry)
|Frank Lloyd Wright||baritone||Michael Sokol||Robert Orth||Robert Orth||Kevin Kees|
|Mamah Cheney||soprano||Carolann Page||Brenda Harris||Brenda Harris||Lara Lynn Cottrill|
|Louis Sullivan||tenor||Barry Busse||Barry Busse||Robert Frankenberry||James Flora|
|Edwin Cheney||bass-baritone||Bradley Garvin||Bradley Garvin||Matthew Curran||Dimitrie Lazich|
|Catherine Wright||mezzo-soprano||Kitt Reuter-Foss||Kitt Reuter-Foss||Elaine Valby||Kara Cornell|
|Julian Carleton||spoken||John Odom||Peter Mowhawk||Elem Eley|
|Marion Mahoney / Draftsperson||soprano / baritone||Katherine Cloutier||Rosa Pascarella||James Demler|
|Maid||lyric soprano||Mimmi Fulmer||Diane Ragains||Gilda Lyons||Anna McTiernan|
|Last Draftsman||soprano / baritone||Katherine Cloutier||Rosa Pascarella||James Demler|
|Draftsman||tenor||David Gagnon||Charles Wolter||Tony Barton|
|Waiter||spoken||John Tallman||Peter Mowhawk||Elem Eley|
|Wife 1||soprano||Deanna Gibeau||Sandra Cross||Jennifer Lynn Reckamp|
|Wife 2||soprano||Gale Ketteler||Elizabeth Fauntleroy||Gilda Lyons|
|Wife 3||soprano||Lori Poulson||Lilah Greendale||Jennifer Lynn Reckamp|
|Townswoman 1||mezzo-soprano||Joanna Johnston||Meredith Barber / Patricia Meuller||Jennifer Lynn Reckamp|
|Townswoman 2||mezzo-soprano||Laura Tucker||Cynthia Mallard / Jan Bickel||Deborah Fleischer|
|Reporter||tenor||Kevin Jeffers||Roy C. Smith||Eric Fleischer|
|Workman 1||baritone||Joel Kopischke||Nicholas Solomon||James Demler|
|Workman 2||baritone||David Williams||Jan Jarvis||Tony Barton|
|Workman/reporter/photographer||bass baritone||Bruce Baumer||Peter Van der Graaff||James Demler|
|Workman/reporter/draftsman/guest||baritone||James Demler||Henry Hunt||Eric Fleischer|
|Workman/reporter/draftsman/guest||tenor||Patrick Jones||Mark Meier||Tony Barton|
|Draftsmen, townspeople, guests||mixed chorus||Madison Opera Chorus||Chicago Opera Theater Chorus||Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus|
|Orchestra||Madison Symphony||Chicago Opera Theater Orchestra||Buffalo Philharmonic|
The Cliff Dwellers Club, Chicago, 1903. Architect Louis Sullivan, mentor and friend of Frank Lloyd Wright, has been drinking all afternoon. He muses on his estrangement from Wright.
Wright's studio, Oak Park, Illinois, 1903. Wright pitches plans for a new house to wealthy Chicagoans Edwin and Mamah Cheney. He and Mamah flirt; her husband is concerned with costs. After they leave, Wright muses on Mamah; his wife Catherine overhears him and they quarrel.
The Cheney House construction site, six months later. Workmen sing, townswomen gossip; Wright and Mamah arrive to view the work as their liaison deepens. Edwin arrives and there is a showdown: Mamah tells Edwin she is leaving him for Wright. Afterwards, Edwin laments the fact that, while he has gained a house, he has lost his wife.
Mamah's apartment in Berlin, 1910. As Mamah translates some verses from German, she comes to terms with her strongly ambivalent feelings about her life with Wright, recognizing, despite her love for him, that her dream of an equal partnership with him is and will remain just that. Sullivan, in Chicago, echoes the sentiment.
Taliesin, Spring Green, Christmas, 1911. Wright delivers a prepared statement attempting to explain his living out of wedlock with Mamah while still married to Catherine. Mamah, though at his side, is clearly disaffected.
Taliesin, Summer, 1914. During the course of a cocktail party, Wright pursues a new love interest as Mamah cannot help but observe; various clients, guests, colleagues, and employees — including an inebriated barbershop quartet of newspaper reporters — comment.
The Cliff Dwellers' Club, later that summer. Wright and Sullivan attempt a reconciliation, but are interrupted by Edwin Cheney, who delivers the news that Mamah's been murdered and Taliesin torched.
The ruins of Taliesin, later that night. The bodies of the dead are arrayed in the smoking remains of the house. A Maid explains that Julian Carleton, Wright's chef, has been found, his throat burned from drinking hydrochloric acid. Wright gropes for a way to go on, finds in the pocket of Mamah's coat a letter that gives him consolation of a sort. He vows to rebuild the house in her memory.
- Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Shining Brow". Almanacco Amadeus (Italian).