Mark Twain & The General - One act Opera - Libretto: Jewel Seehaus-Fisher, Music: Robert W. Butts
Washington's Headquarters - Morristown National Historical Park Musieum, 30 Washington Place, Morristown, NJ
Don Sheasley as Ulysses S. Grant
Timothy Maureen Cole as Julia Grant
Brian Jamieson as Mark Twain
Elizabeth Wooten as The Cook
Civil War Veterans: Anthony Shashaty - Douglas Anderson - Tom Loughman
The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey conducted by Maestro Robert W. Butts
Towards the end of his life, President Ulysses S. Grant is dealing with financial pressures and cancer. He attempts to write his book on the Civil War, tended to by his wife, Julia. Mark Twain, himself in financial difficulties, offers to publish Grant's book which has remained one of the landmarks of American literature. While Grant was writing and battling for his life, veteran soldiers would pay respects outside his house, their stories being the inspiration for Grant's completing his book.
The concert performance is part of the 2017 National Park Week. It is sponsored by Morristown National Historical Park and Eastern National.
On display will be the hand corrected proofs by Mark Twain of an article called "To My Missionary Critics" which appeared in the April 1901 edition of the North American Review. It dealt with the Boxer Rebellion in China.
Dr. Jude Pfister, Chief of Cultural Resources at Morristown National Historical Park, will be on hand to answer questions related to the museum and its vast manuscript collection.
Jewel Seehaus-Fisher (d 2015) was one of New Jersey's leading playwrights, a pioneer in women's theater. She wrote several plays which were produced across the country. Her musical theater collaborations included Gesualdo and A Night in the Wilde Wild West.
Don Sheasley has been one of New Jersey's leading baritones for several years. He has sung major roles with opera companies throughout New Jersey. Among his frequent collaborations with Maestro Butts and The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey have been the Count in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, Rigoletto in Verdi's Rigoletto, Don Alfonso in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, The Commendatore in Mozart's Don Giovanni, and Giorgio Germont in Verdi's La Traviata,
Brian Jamieson has sung musical theater, cabaret and opera. He premiered the roles of Gesualdo in Gesualdo, Sherriff Willie in Wilde's Wild West, and Mark Twain in Mark Twain & The General.
Timothy Maureen Cole has sung with opera companies in New York and New Jersey. With BONJ, she has sung The Countess in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and Damon in Handel's Acis and Galatea. She has also appeared as The Woman in Maestro Butts's setting of Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart. Ms. Cole is also co-host of the popular podcast Not Just a Movie.
Elizabeth Wooten is a student of Carol Yahr. A recent graduate from the Vocal Performance program at Montclair State University, she has performed in the staged Handel Cantata titled "Erotic Madness", Ida in Die Fledermaus, and scenes from Midsummer Nights Dream (Tytania), Il Mondo della Luna (Lisetta), and Idomeneo (Ilia). She has also performed Papagena in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Theatre Montclair and scenes from Ariadne auf Naxos (Zerbinetta) with the New York Summer Opera Scenes Program.
Anthony Shashaty, Douglas Anderson, and Tom Loughman have appeared in several opera and musical theater works with BONJ, Bell and Barter Theatre, Opera at Florham, and Eastern Opera. They originated roles in Maestro Butts's settings of Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart and The Cask ofAmontillado. They have also appeared together or separately in productions of Puccini's Tosca, Verdi's Rigoletto and La Traviata, Donizetti's L'Elisir d'amore as well as originating the roles of the Veterans in Mark Twain & The General.
Photos Above: Don Sheasley - Brian Jamieson - Tom Loughman
Photos Below: Maestro Robert W. Butts at the Ford Mansion, Timothy Maureen Cole - Dr. Jude Pfister - Libby Wooten, Jewel Seehaus-Fisher - THe Ford Mansion