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Robert Xavier Rodríguez

Publisher: G. Schirmer

The Ransom of Red Chief (1986)
G Schirmer Inc
Opera and Music Theatre
Sub Category
Chamber Opera
Year Composed
55 Minutes
off-stage chorus
Solo Instrument(s)
boy soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Bass Baritone
Programme Note
Robert Xavier Rodríguez The Ransom of Red Chief (1986)
The action takes place in a small town on the West Texas plains during the mid-1890s. Two rather harmless Yankee desperados are on the run following their abduction of the town banker’s only child. At their hideout, while preparing the ransom note, the desperados, Sam and Bill soon realize the burden of the situation, especially since the victim is enjoying the entire episode and thrives on incessant chatter. In addition, the ten-year-old boy pretends to be the Indian warrior ‘Red Chief’, staging several attacks. After a series of anguish-filled interactions with ‘Red Chief’, they wish to end the whole affair. The reply to the ransom-request contains a surprising counter-offer: the town banker demands $250 to take the boy off their hands! They reluctantly accept the offer and Bill and Sam deliver Johnny back to his widower father. When Johnny realizes he will be left behind, he characteristically creates a disturbance; Bill and Sam make a swift escape and the curtain promptly falls.

…enough to convince the most doting grandparent that W.C. Fields was right about children…brims over with tuneful, catchy music, much of it with a strong folk flavor…He also employs sophisticated and difficult music, but it is so slyly and effectively used (mostly in the orchestra) that no one leaves the hall thinking negative thoughts about modern music.
Olin Chism, Dallas Times Herald,1/1/0001
…The ultimate “outreach” function does not, fortunately, imply any writing down to the audience…Rodríguez produced a score that, on first hearing, was both sophisticated and accessible. The orchestration for chamber ensemble was unfailingly lucid and colorful; ditto for the vocal writing.
Wayne Lee Gay, Musical America,1/1/0001
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