The opera arrives in Fayetteville. It is not an everyday occurrence.
The community, which the federal government calls a “census-designated place,” has had a post office since 1826 and is about 18 miles west of Gettysburg, has a total size of just over three miles. squares and a population of less than 3,000 souls.
Of these, Robert and Mary Darling have kept a home there since 2005. Both are heavily involved in theater and the arts, as well as gardening.
The Darling home was impacted by the historic events that put Gettysburg on the map, Robert said.
“The original house on the property was built in 1840. It was here that Lee’s troops marched to Gettysburg. They camped in our fields and fetched water for the horses from the nearby stream. Sometimes a button or a loop of their stay still pops up,” he said.
On May 1, this Sunday, they managed to combine two of their passions by organizing a garden party in Fayetteville on the sidelines of the annual convention of the American Daffodil Society, which is being held this year at the Wyndham hotel in Gettysburg, with the premiere of an opera on their steps.
“This will be the play’s world premiere,” Mary Darling said recently. “It was composed just for this event by a friend of Robert’s.”
Composer Alva Henderson and Robert Darling have been friends and colleagues since the 1950s, Darling said.
“We worked together in San Francisco on his first opera, a Medea,” Darling said.
Robert Darling has spent his adult life working in the world of opera, including San Francisco Opera and Ballet, New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Canadian Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Miami City Ballet, etc
The short opera which will debut at Darling’s Fayetteville home is only a few minutes long. In this one, a couple have been flirting for a while, in love with each other.
“The woman loves poetry and flowers,” Robert said. “She tells the man that if he can find a poem and the name of the flower she most admires, she will marry him.”
The name of the opera is “Floral Arrangements”.
“He offers a poem by Gertrude Stein and a rose, but that’s not it,” Darling said. “So it’s a poem by (Alfred, Lord) Tennyson and a lily, but that’s not it either. Finally he hits on Wordsworth, then Shakespeare, and the daffodil, and that’s it.
The male lead will be sung by John Boucher, based at the Washington, DC opera, among others.
“Well, let us withhold a bit of a surprise,” Darling said. “He’s a well-known person in the daffodil community.”
Robert Darling said that although “A Floral Arrangement” was written specifically for Sunday’s event, he believes it has a future.
“This piece has a life, I think,” he said. “It will be played next year in the Spanish Steps in Washington.”
Unfortunately, the Darling’s garden party is mostly a private affair, due to limited space and lack of parking. American Daffodil Society convention tour buses will park at a church across Route 30 from the house, with attendees transported on the busy highway on Sunday afternoon Sunday.
This is the first time in the history of the American Daffodil Society since its inception in 1954, that the society will hold its annual national convention in south-central Pennsylvania, Gettysburg to be exact, according to fcfreepresspa.com. .
The Daffodil Show portion of the convention will be free and open to the public at the Wyndham Gettysburg today, Friday, April 29, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, April 30, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.