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MAY 23, 2019

The CUNY Grad Center

Co-Produced with the Curiosity Cabinet


Music & Book by Miriam Gideon

Realized by Whitney George




Miriam Gideon (1906-1996), New York Jewish American composer, wrote Fortunato, an opera in three acts, in 1958. The work is based on the Spanish farce of the same title written by the Álvarez Quintero brothers that was first performed in 1912. Set in 20th century Madrid, the opera traces the journey of the desperately poor and down-on-his luck title character, Fortunato. He has been without work for four years and, with a family to feed, has taken to begging for the generosity of others to support him in this unfortunate time. Unlike some of his peers, Fortunato is unwilling to sacrifice his morals for this support, and in the three scenes of the opera, we see Fortunato try, and ultimately fail, to earn the money he so desperately needs for his family.


In the first scene Fortunato asks for support from Alberto and his wife Constanza. Unfortunately the dubious and dramatic tenor, Don Victorio has beat Fortunato to the punch, and rallies for their support instead. In the second scene, Fortunato sees Don Victorio on the streets of Madrid, who is bragging about his conquests and duping Alberto and Constanza. Don Victorio gives some begging tips to Fortunato, who next fails at soliciting support from local the stenographer. Desperate at the end of the second act, Fortunato  steals coins from the collection pan of a blind guitarist. Ridden with guilt, he returns the bounty to the musician, as the he too sings about having a family to feed of his own. In the final scene, Fortunato finds work as the target for a sharpshooter, Inez, who will pay him for a day's work if he joins her act. A questionable reformed alcoholic, Inez has less-than-perfect aim. The opera ends with Fortunato at the barrel of Inez's gun, crying "for my children!" as he continues on the road to sacrifice to support those he loves. Composed for chamber orchestra, a frugal cast of singers, and condensed length of under an hour, the opera was rumored to be formatted for television.


Unlike most works in Gideon's portfolio, the opera has set to receive a fully-realized performance. The score exists in full as a piano/vocal reduction, and an orchestration of Act 1 only. Composer/conductor Whitney George is completing a style-study of Gideon's orchestrational techniques to complete the orchestrations of the second and third acts for a premiere performance in Fall 2018 with The Curiosity Cabinet and Fresh Squeezed Opera. 


Joanie Brittingham, Costanza/Conchita

Shane Brown, Alberto/The Blind Man

Angky Budiardjono, The Cripple

Andy Dwan, Fortunato

Stephanie Feigenbaum, Amarata

Stephanie Jensen-Moulton, Stenographer

Katie Lipow, Inez/Conchita

Stephen Steffens, Don Victorio



Whitney George, Music & Stage Director


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Image credits: Whitney George

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