Gertrude Stein opera planned
Gertrude Stein wrote an opera libretto about Susan B.
Anthony called "The Mother of
Us All," and the score was composed by Virgil Thompson. If
the University of Houston Opera
Workshop wins a grant from the
Texas Committee for the Humanities, this opera will be produced in Houston.
According to the proposal
submitted by Stephen Harba-
chick, director of the Opera
Workshop, the two-act opera
would be followed by a panel
discussion on the various questions which the opera provokes.
The panel would include Dr.
Carolyn Smith, assistant pro
fessor of Speech, and director
of Academic Information Services at U. H.; Dr. Carol Wiener,
lecturer in History at U. H.;
Dr. Carrin Dunne, assistant professor in Philosophy at the University of St. Thomas; Helen
Cassidy, attorney; and, Nikki
Van Hightower, the new Women's Advocate for the City of
The two sopranos who have
been chosen for the role of
Susan B. Anthony are Mary
Frances Langford and Barbara
McGinness. Langford is a voice
teacher at Houston Baptist University, and a post-baccalaureate
music student at U. H. She has
MARY FRANCES LANGFORD
performed in opera, musical
comedy and recital. She has
performed numerous roles with
the Houston Grand Opera and
has appeared as a soloist with
the Houston Symphony. McGinness earned her Masters in
Music from U. H. in 1975 and
teaches at Alvin Community
College in Alvin, Texas. She
is a soloist at Congregation Beth
Israel and at the First Presbyterian Church. In April of this year
she performed a recital of arias
and art songs at the Museum of
Fine Arts, Houston.
Gertrude Stein was one of the
most innovative writers of the
early twentieth century. Her
prose style can be compared to
the impressionist painting of
Matisse and the cubist painting
of Picasso, who were her good
friends. Writing in an unstructured flow of words, Stein ignores conventional rules of
syntax and grammar. In the
opera, various questions regarding women and politics are considered.
In Act I Scene II, Angel
More discusses her boredom
with her role in life: "Not any
more. I am not a martyr any
more/ Surrounded by sweet
smelling flowers I fell asleep
three times./ Darn and wash and
patch, darn and wash and patch,
darn and wash and patch."
In the Interlude, Susan B.
Anthony gives her opinion of
men: "Men said Susan B. are so
conservative, so selfish, so bore-
some and said Susan B. they are
so ugly, and said Susan B. they
are so gullible." The question in
Harbachick's mind is: having
won the right to vote, have
women come to be like men?
In Act II Scene II, Joe the
Loiterer asks: "Has everybody
forgotten Isabel Wentworth. I
just want to say has everybody
forgotten Isabel Wentworth."
from page 1
presented to Mayor Hofheinz
prior to his first term of office,
by the Harris County Women's
Political Caucus, who created
the office of Women's Advocate.
But contrary to a signed agree
ment followed by campaign promises by the Mayor, nothing had
been done to initiate such a program.
On the matter of involvement with women's problems
outside city departments, Van
Hightower feels that in the area
of job discrimination she- would
not take an active role, but
would act as an advisor and
would recommend procedures
such as going to the E.E.O.C or
contacting area feminist groups.
But Van Hightower does feel
a very strong commitment to
become involved in various areas
affecting life conditions of
women in Houston.
She is concerned about the
plight of women in our local
jails, and is particularly interested in helping abused women.
She is planning to investigate
what she can do in her capacity
as Women's Advocate to alleviate the conditions that affect
the quality of life for the women
"Women have unique problems," Van Hightower states.
"Our problems are the least
understood. They must get
She intends to make full use
of the media in publicizing
her efforts on behalf of women
in the community.
When asked about the sexist
treatment meted out to Channel
2 reporter Carole Kneeland at a
press conference with Police
Chief "Pappy" Bond (Breakthrough editorial, March 1976),
Van Hightower said, "Had I
been in office at that time, I
would have spoken out deploring the incident (to the press)
and would have lodged a strong
protest with the Chief of Police.
"As Women's Advocate, I feel
I now have a voice. I have some
measure of authority and I
will speak out."
The question here is clear:
while we remember the men of
history, have we forgotten the
women of herstory?
In Act II Scene III, Susan B.
Anthony encounters a Black
couple and she asks the man,
"Negro man would you vote if
you only can and not she . . .
I fought for you that you could
vote would you vote if they
would not let me." The question
presented here is: what problems do women have in common
with minority groups?
In Act II Scene V Susan B.
brings up the question of marriage. She says: "I am not married and the reason why is that
I have had to do what I have had
to do, I have had to be what I
have had to be, I could never be
one of two. I could never be
two in one as married couples
do and can, I am but one all
one, one all one, and so I have
never been married to anyone."
In Act II Scene VII, Susan
B. says of men: "They fear
women, they fear each other,
they fear their neighbor . . .
and so they have written in the
name male into the United
States constitution, because they
are afraid of black men because
they are afraid of women, because they are afraid afraid.
Men are afraid." This brings up
the question of the Equal Rights
The Mother of Us All is a
very important piece of literature and highly relevant in this
Bicentennial year. It deserves
the support of the Texas Committee for the Humanities.
Texas' Largest Selection of
2437 University Blvd. 527-8522
• 1UNCH ANO D1NNM
ll.-OO AM -11*3 Pm
• SUNDAYS ~ ST. MICHEL MUNCH
• BANQUET FACILITIES
EitO AAA1 2!S0 RICHMOND AVE
DXX-W** I JAt eorrar cf GmitbrUri