Editions 75

Works by Tom Johnson

Écoutez le temps

The baritone, the tenor and the soprano all try to listen to time for 15 minutes. The pianist and the audience do too. In French but easily translatable. 10€.

Écoutez le temps fut écrit pour la Péniche Opéra à Paris, où il a été créé le 3 mai 2010 avec la soprano Nathalie Godefroy, le ténor Christophe Crapez, le baryton Paul-Alexandre Dubois et le pianiste Nicolas Ducloux.

Le programme de la soirée rappelait au public qu’il y a des précédents très connus pour cette espèce d’écoute :

Quand Erik Satie a présenté sa fameuse Musique d’ameublement pour la première fois, il était furieux que quelques auditeurs veuillent l’écouter. Pour Satie cette musique n’était pas pour écouter, mais pour rester au fond, comme les meubles. Bref, il voulait que les gens écoutent le temps, pas la musique. Écoutez le temps.

Quand John Cage a présenté 4'33" à Woodstock en 1952, David Tudor a simplement mesuré la durée de la musique, sans jouer une seule note au piano. La composition était simplement un cadre sans tableau, un cadre marquant le début et la fin d’une durée de temps choisie par hasard : quatre minutes et 33 secondes. Ce n’était pas une composition pour écouter le pianiste mais plutôt pour écouter ce qui se passait quand le pianiste ne jouait pas. Écoutez le temps.

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Editions 75
  • Year: 2010

L’Opéra de quatre notes

[The Four Note Opera]

The composer’s first opera, and the best known. Published in America by G.Schirmer (#AMP7304), but now also available in French from Editions 75. Approx. 60 min., 30€.

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: G. Schirmer and Editions 75
  • Year: 1972

Riemannoper

A comic opera in two acts, with text from the Riemann Musiklexikon, in German. Baritone, tenor, prima donna, prima donna assoluta, and piano. 90 minutes, 35€.

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Editions 75
  • Year: 1988

Shaggy Dog Operas

“I had always loved the Americans tradition known as ‘shaggy dog stories,’ those repetitive stories that take a very long time to tell until they finally end with some dumb punch line, usually a simple word play or an ironic remark, so my next operatic attempt, in 1978, went in that direction. The result was five chamber operas, about 15 minutes each, which I staged myself in a small loft space in Lower Manhattan.” (from The Four Note Opera, 32 Years Later by Tom Johnson)

Four of these short operas are still done from time to time: Drawers, in which a solo soprano searches for her thimble; Dryer, in which a fisherman catches fish and hangs them on the clothes line to dry; Door, in which two women sing “yawn” a lot, and wonder whether they should answer the door; and Window, where two men strive to clean a dirty window.

Rideau, a possible fifth opera in the series, is available as a PDF file in French.

Drawers

She looks for her thimble and finally finds it on her finger. Soprano and piano, text in English, French, German. 15 minutes, 10€.
Libretto:
1. Lost.
2. It’s lost.
3. Where is it?
4. It must be here.
5. Where is my thimble?
6. I must try to find it.
7. It is not in my pocket.
8. And it did not fall on the floor.
9. Oh look, I have it on my finger.
10. Now I do not have to look anymore.

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Editions 75
  • Year: 1978

Dryer

The baritone catches fish and hangs them up to dry while the tenor looks on, wondering why. Baritone and piano, in English, 15 minutes, 10€.

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Editions 75
  • Year: 1978

Door

Someone is at the door, but the two singers are too tired to answer it. They sing many cadences on the word "yawn." Two sopranos and piano, 10€.

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Editions 75
  • Year: 1978

Window

The window is dirty and it takes 15 minutes to clean it. Tenor, baritone, piano, in English, 7€.

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Editions 75
  • Year: 1978

Un’Opera Italiana

Twelve scenes in Italian, interrupted by recitatives, in which seven experts explain everything in the language of the audience. First written in 1978, published 1991 and revised as a new version in 2006. Never performed. 20 singers, seven intellectuals, and orchestra, two hours. Orchestra material on rental. Vocal score 40€.

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Editions 75
  • Year: 1991, 2006

Sopranos Only

A procession of sopranos, with six sopranos, flute, violin, cello and harp. 35 minutes, 20€

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Editions 75
  • Year: 1984

Deux cents ans

Opera premiered at the Festival d’Avignon in 1989 for the French Bicentennial. A numbered edition of 200 copies. 20€

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Editions 75
  • Year: 1989

Trigonometry

Four baritones and four percussionists look for the point “omega.” Premiered in Hamburg, Nov. 1997, 80 minutes, 40€.

  • Author: Tom Johnson
  • Publisher: Editions 75
  • Year: 1996

Tom Johnson composed his first opera in 1972
Tom Johnson composed his first opera in 1972