MARK BULLER | COMPOSER
THE PASTRY PRINCE (2014)
soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, bass-baritone; piano
Libretto by Charles Anthony Silvestri
Commissioned by Houston Grand Opera/HGOco for the Opera to Go! program
Premiered by Opera to Go! January 2015 at Heinen Theatre, Houston
Signor Giancarlo, the DUKE of Bologna
Vincenzo, the PASTRY PRINCE Baritone
GIACOMO, leader of the commedia dell'arte troupe
SALVATORE, a humble baker Bass-baritone
GINA, his daughter Soprano
ANGELINA, the baker's daughter
ALFREDO, an actor in the troupe
ZEPHYRUS, the Wizard of the West Wind Tenor
ANNAMARIA, an actress in the troupe Mezzo-soprano
AQUILIA, the Queen of the North Wind
Cast of the original production
Julia Fox, soprano
Megan Berti, mezzo-soprano
Brian Ross Yeakley, tenor
Wes Landry, baritone
Said Pressley, bass-baritone
Teruhiko Toda, piano and music director
Matt Hune, stage director
Commissioned for HGOco by the Petrello Foundation
A troupe of actors arrives at the town of a wealthy duke, hoping that he will see their performance and recommend them to other nobles. But they hit a snag when they discover that Mario, their baritone, has disappeared! Unsure what to do, they panic. Unbeknownst to them, the Duke himself sees them in disarray, but is particularly smitten with Gina, one of the actresses. He dons a disguise and asks to join them for their performance of The Pastry Prince. The rehearsal for the opera begins!
Scene 2: The opera-within-the-opera begins in a humble baker's shop. Angelina, the daughter of the baker, is sad that she hasn't found the right man yet. On a suggestion from her father, she creates her own out of sugar and spice: the Pastry Prince! He is awakened by the kiss of true love.
Scene 3: Everything is going well for the engaged couple, who embark on a picnic...
Scene 4: ... but they are observed by Aquilia, the ruthless Queen of the Cold North Wind, who conjures a whirlwind to capture the prince and blow him up to her castle, where she imprisons him behind three magic defenses: thick brambles, a dark lake, and a dungeon door with no handle or latch. She tells him that they will be married by sunset, unless Angelina can somehow stymie the magic defenses.
Scene 5: Angelina is mournfully searching for her prince when she comes across three wizards. Hearing her tale of woe, they offer three magical nuts, each of which conveniently can undo the various spells entrapping the prince. Angelina, unaware of those magical spells, bemusedly accepts the nuts from the wizards, who conjure a whirlwind to send her to the castle of their brother, Zephyrus, the Wizard of the Warm West Wind.
Scene 6: It just so happens that Zephyrus is in love, albeit from afar, with Aquilia. He and Angelina hatch a plan: the wizard will distract the queen while she makes her way to the dungeons to free the prince.
Scene 7: Angelina makes her way to the dungeons. True to form, the three magic nuts remove the magical obstacles.
Scene 8: Zephyrus woos the icy queen, and as they dance she gradually falls for him. Meanwhile, Angelina frees the prince, thus voiding the evil queen's marriage intentions. All dance. The Pastry Prince has come to a happy end.
Scene 9: Giacomo, leader of the troupe, is overjoyed to have found a new player to replace Mario. But now, the Duke reveals his true identity to all, and announces his intention to hire the troupe and make Giacomo his Minister of Merriment.
Wes Landry and Julia Fox in The Pastry Prince at Heinen Theatre. Photo by Lynn Lane.