The Fourth Wise Man
A CHRISTMAS PARABLE IN SIX SCENES
based on Gaspard, Melchior, et Balthazzar by Michel Tournier
Commissioned by the Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota with assistance from the National Endowment for the Artsą Opera-Music Theater Program and the Meet the Composer New Residency Program III (which receives support from the Lila Wallace Fund, the Aaron Copland Fund, the Pew Memorial Trust, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts).
RAJAR (tenor) a disconsolate merchant of sweets and rare candies; searching for something of value that he might dedicate his life to -- something more essential or necessary than candy.
BALTHAZZAR (bass), a bored Persian King attracted to beautiful things; a collector of antiquities and works of art; searching for a new kind of beauty. MERCHANT (bass), greedy merchant who accuses the Salt Man of a large debt and brings charges; is played by the same singer as Balthazzar.
MELCHIOR (tenor), an angry Arabic Prince deposed of his crown by his mother and uncle who have married after murdering his father, the King; searching for justice and truth. Prisoner (tenor), a simple man accused of debt; is played by the same singer as Melchior. Single Soldier is also played by the same singer.
GASPARD (baritone), an African King unhappy in love having fallen love with a white slave; searching for a deeper, enduring love which will give him more than he can receive. DEMAS (baritone), the only character who has witnessed Jesus of Nazareth; he testifies to those who will listen about this messiah; he is sentenced to the salt mines for blasphemy and dies in RAJAR's arms; is played by the same singer as Gaspard.
BETHLEHEM MOTHER (mezzo-soprano), a simple peasant mother who cradles her baby and is mistaken for the virgin Mary by RAJAR; is played by the same singer as the Jerusalem Woman. Jerusalem Woman (mezzo-soprano), a woman who rents the upstairs rooms in her house to a dinner party during Pentecost; she takes pity on RAJAR by offering him the dinner leftovers when he comes looking for Jesus of Nazareth.
Three Angels (trio of treble voices) who are invisible and inaudible to the other characters in the opera: Angel #1 and #2 are young singers (possibly girls) who feel a special affinity to RAJAR's emotions; Angel #3 is an adult or older child who is wiser in the ways of the world but has less sensitivity to subtler emotions. The Angels offer RAJAR protection, encouragement, advice, and direct him on his journey.
Ensemble Singers (E.S. in the score) play a number of roles, primarily the rabble, judges, soldiers, or mourning women; approximately 12-24 singers.
Choir (SATB; Chor. or CH. in the score) plays the role of the Greek chorus, Angel confidants, story tellers; approximately 32-64 singers.
Salt Wife and baby boy in Bethlehem (supernumeraries).
Orchestra (13 players)
3 violin I, 2 violin II, 1 viola, 1 Ścello, 1 bass; trumpet, oboe; percussion, harp, organ
© 1995, George Sand + Randall Davidson
Minneapolis, MN USA. All rights reserved.
Scene 1: Prayer. [RAJAR gazes at the sky at twilight outside his candy shop.]