The Starbird - 1991

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UCLA Design for Sharing
the community outreach program of the UCLA Center for the Performing Arts

The Starbird
A Science-Fiction Musical Fantasy!

Wadsworth Theater
November 22, 1991

The Starbird
book by Kate Pogue
music by Henry Mollicone

John Hall, Producer/Director
Lucas Richman, Conductor

Featuring the UCLA Opera Workshop

Jon Augustine

Robin Bartunek

Wendy Cooper

Eli Gunnell

Scott Lehmkuhl

Robert Williams

Kent Carlson

Elvia Puccinelli and Daniel Shapiro,
Musical Preparation

Chuck Conner
Scenic Design

Michael Nevitt
Lighting Design

Catherine Arndt
Costume Design

Program artwork by Jake Heggie


The Starbird

“The Starbird” is a science-fiction musical fantasy by composer Henry Mollicone and librettist Kate Pogue. The production is directed by John Hall and features performers from the UCLA Opera Workshop.

Commissioned in 1980 by Houston Grand Opera, “The Starbird” received its premiere at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., as part of the Center’s Imagination Festival. The production then toured to cities throughout the state of Texas by Texas Opera Theater.

The Story

Angry about being replaced in their jobs by machines the Cat, the Dog and the Mule argue, each one blaming the other for their predicament. That night they are awakened by a fantastic metal bird from the planet Arcturus. She tells the animals that once she had lived on earth but robot spacemen came and changed her to the Starbird. The Cat, Dog and Mule are captured by the robot spacemen. They seem to be headed for outer space until they learn to value friendship and to work together so they can return back home on earth.

Henry Mollicone

Henry Mollicone is a graduate of the New England Conservatory. He has written many operas including Emperor Norton, The Starbird, The Face on the Barroom Floor, The Mask of Evil and Hotel Eden. He is an Artist-in-residence at Santa Clara University in northern California. He is an active conductor and has conducted opera companies in Baltimore, Portland, Augusta and Lake George. He is a regular conductor with the San Jose Civic LIght Opera and also conducts the San Jose Symphony.

John Hall

John Hall is director of the UCLA Opera and Musical Theater Workshops. He has produced and directed over 60 productions of opera and music theater at UCLA. He also creates and produces the musical revues for the Golden Classics of the Silver Screen series and produces the Carol Burnett Awards in Music Theater. UCLA graduates who took part in his productions are now performing on Broadway, in national touring companies, regional American theaters and in European opera houses. Mr. Hall is directing two productions at the Wadsworth Theater this season: The Starbird and The Black Spider. With composer Roger Bourland, also a professor at UCLA, Mr. Hall is writing a music theater piece, Hidden Legacies, to be premiered at Royce Hall on March 29.

What is Opera?

An opera is a staged dramatic story told through singing and music, with or without spoken dialogue. Opera is the marriage of music and drama, each reinforcing, strengthening and coloring the other. Often this marriage is enhanced by other elements of spectacle such as a chorus or a ballat, which combine to create an even grander picture.

The word “opera” means “work” in Italian, as in “work of art.” The first opera was written nearly 400 years ago, but even before then people used songs and music to express their feelings. The ancient Greeks sometimes played instruments during their dramas, and the chorus would chant and dance. During the Middle Ages, music and dramas were used together in church plays and ceremonies. But the first real opera, entitled Dafne, was written by Jacopo Peri in 1597. Operas at that time were usually performed at royal courts and palaces as entertainment for kings and queens. It was nearly 100 years later when operan began to develop as a new form of publice entertainment.

UCLA Design for Sharing

UCLA Design for Sharing is the community outreach program of the UCLA Center for the Performing Arts. It is a group of volunteers organized in 1969 to provide enrichment through performing arts for young people, the elderly, the handicapped and other members of the community who would not otherwise be able to attend. Design for Sharing sponsors demonstration performances at UCLA in music, dance, and theater for students in the Los Angeles area.

Design for Sharing also buys tickets to performing arts events at UCLA and distributes them through more than 100 service organizations such as the Braille Institute, the U.S.O., Delancy Street, various senior citizen’s groups, and citywide performing arts magnet and special education programs. Funds are raised through membership dues, grants, and benefit events. For further information about Design for Sharing, please call (213) 825-7681.

UCLA Center for the Performing Arts

The Center presents the largest university sponsored professional performing arts series in America, with more than 200 public events each season at Royce Hall and the Wadsworth Theater. In addition, the Center sponsors residencies, master classes, and special festivals in association with the School of the Arts, The Frederick S. Wight Art Gallery, and the Fowler Museum of Cultural History.

UCLA Schools of the Arts and Theater, Film and Television

The UCLA Schools of the Arts and Theater, Film and Television are a stimulating environment dedicated to the education of socially aware and technically skilled artists. The Schools serve as a vital componet of the Los Angeles arts community of the Los Angeles arts community and a resource for the entertainment industry and related fields.

This project is funded in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
Today’s program is also made possible by generous donations from:

The Aidlin Foundation
Mr. and Mrs. William Carter
Mr. and Mrs. Sherman Grancell
Mrs. Richard Miller
Mr. and Mrs. David Rottapel
Mr. and Mrs. Werner Wolfen


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