June 1, 2011
Marie's Orchard
Composer:Philip Westin
Librettist:Dylan F. Thomas
THE CURTAIN OPENS in the cherry orchard on the Shabata farm in rural 1892 Nebraska as Frank and Marie Shabata's former housemaid, Angelique, and the farm's hired hand, Anthony, are getting married. Once the ceremony is complete, the wedding party erupts into a country hoedown. Noticing that the orchard needs care, Emil offers his help to get the space cleaned up. A month later, Emil is in the orchard clearing weeds when Marie enters with Angelique. Emil and Marie share an awkward moment that is broken by the arrival of Frank and Anthony who are coming from the fields for lunch. The group is preparing to eat a picnic that Marie and Angelique have prepared when Frank and Marie get into an argument. Three months later, Frank and Anthony are building a cherry booth for Marie to sell her wares at the Catholic County Faire. Anthony leaves with Marie and Angelique to get pies and jams from the wagon, leaving Frank alone when Emil enters looking for Marie. Frank and Emil get into an argument, and Frank forbids Emil from seeing Marie. Frank’s head begins to pound and he exits. Emil hears Marie singing and he hides from her. He then confronts Marie about her commitment to Frank. They argue; then Emil reveals some of his true feelings for her. Before they can kiss, the church bells ring and Emil leaves. Frank comes back looking for Marie; he has seen her talking to Emil. Frank tells Marie that she can no longer have anything to do with Emil. As he raises his hand to strike her, church lets out and the parishioners begin celebrating for the County Faire. While the churchgoers celebrate, Marie, Frank, and Emil, each in their own worlds, sing of their longings and predicaments.

LATER, EMIL SECRETLY summons Anthony and Angelique into the orchard. Emil requests that they deliver a letter to Marie asking her to meet him in the orchard. Left alone, Emil sings of his feelings for Marie. Having received the letter, Marie enters the orchard and Emil confesses his love for her. Marie admits that she has feelings for him, but when Emil tells her that he loves her, she gets angry and defends her marriage. Emil decides it would be best for him to leave the county and they agree to write to each other in his absence. Emil meets his friends at the local bar where he finds a celebration in full steam. Anthony tells him that he and Angelique are expecting their first baby. When Anthony asks Emil to be the baby's Godfather, Emil announces that he is leaving town the following morning. Frank enters the bar already drunk, and seeing Emil, becomes infuriated. Marie enters looking for Frank and tries to persuade him to go home with her. She tells him he's acting like a fool. In response, Frank slaps her across the face, enraging Emil. The two men brawl and the men in the bar throw Frank out into the street. Marie returns home to the Shabata farm alone and sings of her desire to be close to Emil. Emil enters and they are overcome by their passion for each other. They kiss, and Marie seductively leads Emil into the orchard. Frank arrives home early and finds Marie gone. Drunk and angry, he sings about his desire to have an obedient wife. Suddenly, he sees Emil's hat on the porch and realizes Marie and Emil are together in the orchard. He works himself into a rage, and vows that he will take back his wife. As Marie and Emil are in the orchard slowly undressing each other and beginning to make love, Frank quietly enters and, seeing them together, is frozen in silence for a moment. Suddenly, without thinking, he takes action.

Title Information

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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)

Number of Acts

Musical Style
Tonal, Rhythmic, Melodic, Intense.

Original Cast
Shira Renee Thomas (Marie Shabata)
Benjamin Bunsold (Emil Bergson)
Abdiel González (Frank Shabata)
Jay Stephenson (Anthony Chevalier)
Adrien Roberts (Angelique Chevalier)
E. Scott Levin (Bill the Bartender)
Nathan Baglyos (Preacher / Bar Scene Friend)
Carl Darchuk (Bar Scene Soloist)
Jacqueline Crist-Franzen (Wedding Scene Soloist)

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