February 27, 1976 | Houston Grand Opera
Bilby's Doll
Composer:Carlisle Floyd
Librettist:Carlisle Floyd
Doll Bilby is brought to Massachusetts from France as a small child by her foster father, Jared Bilby. Her jealous foster mother Hannah, engulfed in the witch fever that has swept the colony, condemns Doll as a witch. Titus Thumb, a young ministerial student, falls in love with Doll and proposes marriage in hopes of saving Doll from persecution. Doll opposes the marriage and, in order to convince Titus that she must not marry him, reveals that her mother and father were burned as witches in France and that she, too, may become a witch in time. Unsure of her identity and fate, Doll implores God and Satan to send her a sign. Shad, the local minister's son, overhearing her prayers, appears to her as a demon lover. They marry and Doll embraces witchhood as her destiny. Months later, Doll is arrested for believed acts of witchcraft. Titus begs her to renounce her witchhood and go away with him to be his wife. Doll declares that she is already married to a demon and is carrying his child. Refusing to renounce her heritage and her believed demon husband, Doll dies in prison during childbirth.

Title Information

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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)

Number of Acts

Musical Style
Tonal, with some polytonal elements; lyrical; quartal harmonies; melodies imitative of American folk idioms; some chromaticism; metric flexibility.

Vocal & Musical Forces
3 Sopranos, Mezzo-soprano, Alto, 3 Tenors, 4 Baritones, Bass-baritone, 2 Basses; 3 non-singing roles; Two flutes (piccolo), 2 oboes (English horn), 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 French horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, percussion, piano, harp, strings

Original Cast
Catherine Malfitano (Doll Bilby)
Joy Davidson (Hannah Bilby)
Jacque Trussel (Shad)
Alan Titus (Titus Thumb)
Samuel Ramey (Mr. Zelley)
Thomas Paul (Jared Bilby)
Barrie Smith (Mrs. Thumb)
Nell Evans (Goody Goochy)
Dale Smith (Town Crier)
Thomas Page (Deacon Thumb)
David Cornell (Mr. Increase Mather)
Jon Enloc (Silas)

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