The Wooing

one-act opera by Leonard Lehrman,
libretto by Abel Meeropol (aka Lewis Allan)
originally written for Elie Siegmeister (1954)
based on Anton Chekhov's play "The Boor"

George Smith tries to collect on a debt
from the recently widowed Mrs. Helen Potter.
Her servant Hester and the Stage Manager
wonder what will happen. Outside Boston, 1910.

Previewed in concert at Great Neck House Feb. 9, 2003
premiered in concert at Queens College Feb. 23, 2003
with Gregory Rahming, baritone, as George Smith
Helene Williams, soprano, as Mrs. Helen Potter
Tara Venditti, mezzo-soprano, as Hester
Gregory Mercer, tenor, as Stage Manager
and the composer at the piano;
issued on CD by Original Cast Records OC 6055
Tollfree tel.: 1-888-627-3993
Album cover features photo of librettist-->

Audio recording posted by here.

Staged premiere, part of Russian Opera Mini-Festival,
with Benjamin Spierman (George), Hannah Spierman (Helen),
Helene Williams (Hester), Gregory Mercer (Stage Manager),
and the composer at the piano:
Nov. 10, 2012 Syosset Public Library [cancelled]
Nov. 18, 2012 Freeport Memorial Public Library
--Watch the complete video here
--or in 3 segments: Pt 1, Pt 2, and Pt 3
Dec. 2, 2012 Bethpage Public Library
Final performance, for the camera, plus curtain call

Critical comments:

See Nov. 21, 2012 NY Times article on the opera here.

Meredith and I thank you for giving us
such an original and informative afternoon.
Composers owe you a lot--programming them,
performing them (and on the ukelele as well as the piano!)
I thought your accompanying was clean and really sensitive
with lovely "subito pps" among other effects.
And your own setting of the Chekhov was real fun (good prosody!)
And our congrats to Helene, who sings with panache!
--William Mayer 2/24/03:

Utterly delightful!--Sheldon Harnick

"The Wooing" is especially good and ought to take its place
with other one-act operas. It could be used as the opener on a
double or triple bill with Menotti's "The Telephone" or some other
two-character opera. It might work well with a middle-aged couple as
contrasted with the younger couple in "The Telephone," and will
certainly permit the two principal singers an opportunity to show
their dramatic (as well as vocal) capabilities.
--Burton A. Zipser, Director, Oakland Performing Arts, Michigan, 8/29/03

I listened with great delight to your Abel Meeropol CD.
This is a wonderful contribution,
beautifully chosen and performed.
Bravo!--Alan Mandel 8/30/03

I found a lot to like in "The Wooing."
The fierce comic madness alternating with full-out passion,
delivered with a wide vocabulary of musical ideas was a treat.
I also liked Siegmester's "Snowman,"
the flowing melody of his "The Moon,"
your delightful "The Purple Couch,"
Weill's "Inventory," and Engel's "Monologue," among others.
--Stephen Lawrence 9/3/03

Of particular note was the premiere of The Wooing,
an opera by Leonard Lehrman, libretto by Mr. Meeropol.
Particularly effective was the music from Scene 4
with singers Helene Williams and Gregory Rahming.
--Eugene McBride, The New Music Connoisseur 11:3&4 p.23 (2003)

I enjoyed the rapid turnover of ideas, moods and colours.
From the inspirational openers celebrating political freedom
and social justice, through the rich mix of witty and
whimsical tableaux, the Siegmeister miniatures,
and then the extraordinary operatic sendup of The Wooing,
it's a fascinating and eclectic collection.
The artfulness of the music, the vocal Úlan, and the sheer
engagement of the performers, combine to impressive effect....
The CD offers a real musical kaleidoscope,
and hopefully will expose many new listeners
to the wide-ranging and deeply committed talents of Abel Meeropol.
--Alex Skovron, Melbourne, 12/17/03

Several (6/7) bravi to you as conductor, coach,
entrepreneur, arranger, composer, pianist, and enthusiast.
And a stand-up cheer, with raised clenched fist, as a tribute
to a defender of almost-lost causes.
--Jack Beeson, 1/18/04

Photos by Joel Simpson:

"My name is George Smith."
"I am not receiving visitors."

"Your late husband owes me $500."

"I need the money now."

"In due time... Will you go?" "No."

"Now will you get out?"

"Heaven help us! I'll go get the undertaker!"

"Will she shoot him!?"

"Ha! You're not even holding the pistol right."

"If you were a gentleman, you would
show me how to shoot!" "With pleasure!"

"I love you!"


Curtain Call #1

Curtain Call #2