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Robert Xavier Rodríguez

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Monkey See, Monkey Do (1986)
Text Writer
Libretto by Mary Duren and the composer based on a Mexican folk tale. Spanish translation available.
Publisher
G Schirmer Inc
Category
Opera and Music Theatre
Sub Category
Chamber Opera
Year Composed
1986
Duration
35 Minutes
Language
English, Spanish
Solo Instrument(s)
2 Sopranos, Mezzo Soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Bass


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Programme Note
Robert Xavier Rodríguez Monkey See, Monkey Do (1986)
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Cast List:

   PEDRITO, sombrero salesman: Tenor
   MARIA, Pedrito's fiancée: Soprano
   ANTONIO, organ grinder, Maria's father: Bass
   FIRST WOMAN VILLAGER/also BABY MONKEY: Soprano
   SECOND WOMAN VILLAGER/also GIRL MONKEY: Mezzo-Soprano
   Additional villagers, doubling villager ensemble parts, ad. lib


Instrumentation:

    Clarinet in B-flat
    Trumpet in C
    Percussion (one player):
    Marimba, Chimes, Glockenspiel, 2 Timpani, Suspended Cymbals, Tenor Drum, Snare Drum, Pedal Bass Drum, Triangle, Tambourine, Wood Block, Maracas
    Guitar
    Accordion
    Piano
    Violin
    Cello

Production notes:

Monkey See, Monkey Do may be performed either by singing actors or
by puppets and singing actors (or tape). A tape of the opera, with singers and instrumental
accompaniment, is available on rental for productions that use puppets.

Production requirements (for productions with puppets):
    A puppet theater with a backdrop depicting a Mexican village square with a fountain, church, shops, etc. Downstage left is a large tree with two pull-down groups of
    monkeys (one group with sombreros and one group without sombreros) arranged so that the
    monkeys can suddenly appear and disappear among the branches.
    Nine puppets depicting the characters listed above.
    A stack of seven or more small sombreros for Pedrito to wear, arranged as
    follows: two separate sombreros on top, four or more in the middle (attached to each other in
    the stack), one separate sombrero on the bottom.
    Four or more additional sombreros.
Scenario:

A Mexican village square.
    Quintet: Antonio frantically searches for his missing monkey. Maria and a trio of sympathetic villagers listen and try to help.

    Sextet: Pedrito enters, wearing many sombreros piled upon his head. He tries to sell the sombreros, but the town people, more interested in Antonio's plight, rebuff him. Only Maria listens to Pedrito, and the two exchange tender words. The villagers leave to look for the monkey.

    Scena: Maria and Pedrito ask Antonio's permission to marry. Antonio refuses, calling Pedrito a failure. The organ grinder storms off to continue looking for the monkey. As Pedrito and Maria console each other, Antonio's monkey appears, this time with a girl monkey.

    Quartet: Unaware of the monkeys, Pedrito and Maria sing an affectionate duet. The monkeys imitate their phrases as well as their gestures, then rush off. Maria leaves to appeal once more to her father.

    Recitative and Pantomime: Alone, Pedrito muses on his predicament and, still wearing his stack of sombreros, rests under a tree. As Pedrito dozes, the two monkeys reappear, now with a baby monkey. Antonio's monkey steals the top sombrero, the girl monkey steals the next sombrero and the baby monkey takes all but one of the remaining sombreros. One by one the three monkeys disappear into the branches of the tree. They suddenly reappear, accompanied by several other monkeys, wearing sombreros and singing.

    Sextet and Pantomime: Pedrito awakens and is alarmed to see the monkeys wearing his sombrero. Maria, Antonio and the villagers hear the commotion and enter only to add to the confusion. Pedrito waves his arms about in frustration, whereupon the monkeys, in unison, imitate him behind his back.

    Finale: When Pedrito realizes that the monkeys are copying him, he leads them in an imitation pantomime, culminating in his throwing his own sombrero on the ground. Instantly the monkeys follow suit, and hats fly as Pedrito's sombreros come sailing down from the tree. Antonio rushes to congratulate Pedrito. As the two embrace, Antonio's monkey, the girl monkey, and the baby monkey join them on the ground, imitating the happy scene. The delighted villagers eagerly buy up the celebrated sombreros of the clever Pedrito. Antonio, now the proud owner of three monkeys, gives his blessing to Pedrito and Maria. The audience joins the cast in a Mexican celebration, clapping and singing.
Notes on the music:

The Mexican setting of Monkey See, Monkey Do is reflected in the music. The opera is scored for a typically Mexican mariachi-like ensemble. Violin, trumpet, guitar, and accordion are especially prominent. Several actual folk melodies are woven into the musical texture, among them a variation of the popular Chapanecas (Mexican Clapping Dance) and two strains from the celebrated El Jarabe Tapatio (Mexican Hat Dance.) Other quoted melodies include two dance tunes associated with Antonio, the organ grinder (La Chilena Guerrense and Los Viejitos), and two love songs for Pedrito and Maria (La Mestiza and Preguntale a las Estrellas).



Synopsis:

In a beautiful village in Mexico, Antonio the organ grinder, has a somewhat obsessive attachment to his pet monkey. Meanwhile, Pedrito, a young man who makes sombreros, wants to marry Antonio’s daughter Maria. One day the monkey runs away, causing Antonio great distress; the whole town searches for the monkey, ignoring everything else. Antonio’s monkey is soon discovered hiding in a tree with a whole band of monkeys who have snatched all of Pedrito’s colorful hats, playing and dancing delightedly. Pedrito demands the return of his hats but the monkeys merely mimic his efforts, ignoring the order. Realising this, Pedrito cleverly throws his hat on the ground; the monkeys imitate him, throwing all the stolen sombreros from the tree. ‘Bravo Pedrito!’ cry the villagers, affording him instant fame and renown. All live happily ever after.



Performances
Date
Title
  • 21 JUN 2014
    Sacramento, CA
    Sacramento Opera

    Other Dates:
    22 June - Sacramento, CA
  • 19 NOV 2013
    Arlington, VA
    Opera Nova
    Jose Sarin, conductor

    Other Dates:
    20-22 November - Arlington, VA
  • 23 APR 2013
    Arlington, VA
    Opera Nova
    Jose Sacin, conductor

    Other Dates:
    24-30 April; 1-22 May - Arlington, VA
  • 23 OCT 2012
    Arlington, VA
    Federal City Family Opera

    Other Dates:
    24,25 October; 2 November - Arlington, VA
  • 09 JUN 2012
    Guadalajara, CP, Mexico
    Corpocreativo, Cultura en Movimiento AC
    Hernan Del Riego, conductor

    Other Dates:
    10 June - Guadalajara, CP, Mexico
  • 09 JUN 2012
    Guadalajara, CP, Mexico
    Cultura en Movimiento

    Other Dates:
    10 June - Guadalajara, CP, Mexico
  • 09 JUN 2012
    Guadalajara, CP, Mexico
    Universidad de Guadalajara

    Other Dates:
    10 June - Guadalajara, CP, Mexico
  • 29 MAR 2009
    Kingston, RI
    University Of Rhode Island
  • 19 NOV 2005
    York, PA
    York College Of Pennsylvania
    L. Anderson-Baer, conductor

Reviews
…marvelous…captivating and energetic work…an entire audience of young people will be eagerly rooting for the underdog to become the hero…Certainly a committed production of this work will ‘leave ‘em wanting more!
Mark Lynch, Opera for Youth,1/1/0001
…a stirring musical and visual treat. The score blends elements of Mexican-mariachi traditional folk melodies with the contemporary style of Mr. Rodríguez… The musical score encourages audience participation; the combination of English and Spanish is ideal for the introduction of language study; and the exposure to the Mexican culture fits perfectly into any humanities curriculum.
Stephen A. Rapp, Opera Pacific,1/1/0001
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