Music For The Soul

The Victor Herbert Renaissance Project PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alyce Mott   
Monday, 10 March 2008 10:37
Article Index
The Victor Herbert Renaissance Project
Dino Anagnost
Alyce Mott
The Little Orchestra Society
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In 1994, Maestro Dino Anagnost, conductor and Music Director of The Little Orchestra Society in New York City was in need of a new libretto for an upcoming LOS version of Victor Herbert's Babes In Toyland. He approached Alyce Mott, NYC playwright and stage director, to write the project and thus was born a collaboration which has resulted in the launching of the Victor Herbert Renaissance Project.

Faced with needing a 50 minute version of Babes to fulfill LOS's needs, Ms. Mott sought the original 1903 version as part of her research. Finding that particular script proved far more difficult than she had ever anticipated. After exhausting all resources in New York, the book Victor Herbert, A Life In Music, (Edward N. Waters, The Macmillan Company, 1955) directed her to the Victor Herbert Collection in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

She found that original 1903 script and a great deal more. The Library of Congress contains a vast treasure trove of Herbert music which cries out for exploration and reassessment. LOC librarian Wayne Shirley (now retired), himself a Herbert specialist, quickly became a fountain of information and assistance. Ms. Mott became convinced that it was time to reacquaint America with Mr. Herbert's music.

Upon the completion of a highly successful Babes In Toyland in Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall on April 7, 1995, Maestro Anagnost and Ms. Mott decided to continue their collaboration and explore Herbert together.

The VHRP Philosophy

Herbert was never blessed with a great librettist. The spoken dialog was, by today's standards, overly verbose and slow paced. VHRP has been developing updated Herbert librettos for 15 years and creates concert versions with a narrator, 5-8 main characters, chorus and Herbert's original orchestrations but without the costs of elaborate sets or stagings. Ms. Mott insists on retaining the spirit and style of the original while telling a sound story which today's audiences are finding easy to follow and enjoy. The productions run in length from 60 minutes to a full 2 and 1/2 hours. The shorter operettas can easily be expanded into longer versions if you desire. All can be staged with no set, minimal costuming and props, and no choreography. However, if you really wish to stage any of the VHRP concert versions, it would not be difficult and Ms. Mott is more than willing to assist you.

For those purists among you who feel compelled to be faithful to the letter of the original script, consider whether your audience will really enjoy sitting through all that windy dialog filled with archaic jokes best understood around 1900. It's the music that is important. The way to bring America back to Herbert and return his music to its proper prominence is to leave your audience loving the music and wanting more.

To date, the Victor Herbert Renaissance Project has produced four full productions of it's new Babes In Toyland (1903), the latest one being a 100th Anniversary production in 2003; produced concert versions include: The Fortune Teller (1898); little known Cyrano de Bergerac (1899); Mlle Modiste (1906); Eileen (1917); Sweethearts (1913); Naughty Marietta (1910) and The Red Mill (1906). Ms. Mott has also completed a spruce up of both the original Marietta libretto and the original The Serenade (1897) for those who choose to do those particular scripts "as they were originally done."

That's a whopping grand total of twelve revival productions with full orchestra at New York City's Lincoln Center. No one in America is doing more than VHRP to bring this stunning music back into the musical culture. Between its performance activities and doing its best to answer all your questions with regard to Mr. Herbert, VHRP stays very busy all year long.

More information on these productions and other Herbert concert evenings can be found on this site under New Productions. You can find the program and the first ten pages of script for each of these operettas. VHSource, LLC will soon be packaging these productions in very affordable ways.

The Performance Resources and the WebLinks sections of this site will point you toward folks who can help you find the materials you need to both research your Herbert project and perform it. Finally, look for the Shop VHSource digital download store which opened June 4, 2008 so that materials are easier to obtain.

Watch the VHRP News portion of this site to see what's coming next for VHRP in New York City.


Dino Anagnost, Music Director

Dino Anagnost, Music Director of The Little Orchestra Society since 1979, has conducted the Society in over 1,000 concerts. He has brought to the organization not only his musical gifts, but also his remarkable programming innovations for adults and children alike.

In 1993, Mr. Anagnost created Sound Discoveries, a series dedicated to the music of the 20th century, which has presented American and New York premieres of such composers as Rolf Lieberman, Ned Rorem, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Mikis Theodorakis, Max Bruch, Gian Carlo Menotti, John Corigliano, Silvestre Revueltas and Benjamin Britten. In addition, these programs have offered New York concert premieres of the best of 100 years of film music, including Rachel Portman' s Chocolat, John Williams' Schindler s List, Franz Waxman's Sunset Boulevard, Hugo Friedhoffer' s The Best Years of Our Lives, Miklos Rosza' s Spellbound Concerto, Erich Wolfgang Korngold' s The Prince and the Pauper, Dmitri Tiomkin' s Cyrano de Bergerac, Maurice Jarre' s Lawrence of Arabia, and Camille Saint-Saëns' The Assassination of Duc de Guise. With its centennial productions of The FortuneTeller, and Cyrano de Bergerac, as well as Mlle Modiste, Eileen, Sweethearts, Naughty Marietta and The Red Mill, Sound Discoveries has started the process of restoring the music of Victor Herbert to the modern repertoire as part of The Victor Herbert Renaissance Project.

In 1990, Mr. Anagnost conceived a festival series based on the musical genius of Antonio Vivaldi. Vivaldi' s Venice, still thriving in its 13th year, presents the composer's works in the dazzling Venetian style of the 18th century. In this series, Maestro Anagnost has conducted American premiere performances of a trilogy of Vivaldi' s operas, Arsilda, regina di Ponto, L' Olimpiade and Tamerlano, all specially reconstructed for The Little Orchestra Society by the noted English Vivaldi scholar and musicologist, Dr. Eric Cross.

In both adult series, Sound Discoveries and Vivaldi' s Venice, Anagnost' s informative and entertaining commentary on the music and its milieu, another innovation, enhances each concert.

Equally at home in the musical repertoire of the 18th or 21st century, on the concert stage or in the opera house, in the classical or Broadway idiom, Mr. Anagnost has conducted operas by Mozart, Strauss, Bizet and Puccini; operettas of Sousa, Herbert, Strauss and Sullivan; the Asian premieres of Menotti 's The Medium and Amelia Goes to the Ball; and on PBS, Poulenc' s La Voix humaine for " Great Performances." For an IBM special, he conducted a recreation of Rodgers ' ballet Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, with New York City Ballet' s prima ballerina Allegra Kent, and Gershwin' s original version of his American classic, Rhapsody in Blue.

As Music Director and Conductor of The Little Orchestra Society, he has collaborated with some of the 20th century s major composers - Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Gian Carlo Menotti, David Diamond, John Corigliano, Igor Stravinsky and Leonard Bernstein - as well as outstanding personalities in related disciplines - Lynn Redgrave, Claire Bloom, Robert Cuccioli, Mia Farrow, Joel Grey, Michael Medved, Jeffrey Lyons, Estelle Parsons, Irene Pappas, Rita Moreno, Cyril Ritchard and Glenn Close.

As Dean of Music at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral of North America, Anagnost created Great Music - Under a Byzantine Dome, a concert series which has presented some of the conductor s own compositions and arrangements as well as New York premieres of works by Serg Rachmaninoff, Christopher Rouse and John Tavener.

Through Happy Concerts for Young People, for ages 6 to 12, and the Lolli-Pops™ series for ages three to five, which he created in 1986, Mr. Anagnost continues his zealous commitment to bringing classical music to young audiences. To that end, in 1980, he initiated Chance for Children, a community outreach and arts education program that offers children from pre-kindergarten through high school the opportunity to hear and learn about classical music through student and teacher workshops integrating the live concert experience into the curriculum. Since this program began, Maestro Anagnost has introduced the glories of classical music to over one million metropolitan area young people.

A native of Manchester, New Hampshire, Dr. Anagnost was graduated from Boston University and The Juilliard School. For his musical achievements throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, Maestro Anagnost has received numerous honor and citations, from governments, patriarchates, states, universities, and civic and arts organizations. He has received three advanced degrees, including a doctorate from Columbia University where he is currently adjunct professor of music. He was nominated for a Grammy by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and was conferred the honor of Commendatore in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic for his service to Italian music in the United States.



While she has now been writing for more than a decade, Alyce Mott has had a major career as a stage director including new scripts, straight plays, musicals, and opera. Her New York City directing debut (1985) was with the annual production at Lincoln Center of Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti produced by The Little Orchestra Society (Dino Anagnost, Conductor). In December of 1995, she returned to Avery Fisher to again direct the 15th Annual production of LOS's Amahl, a position she held through 2006. She also began serving The Little Orchestra Society as Artistic Administrator in 1999 and recently completed eight seasons of service. Currently, Ms. Mott devotes her time to both this website and a busy consulting business. The website has been entirely re-designed as of March 15, 2008 and will serve not only as a gathering space for operetta lovers of all ages but also a source of affordable, digital downloads of hard-to-find operetta materials (librettos, piano/vocals, scores, parts, recordings, etc.).

During her directing career, Ms. Mott spent two years as Artistic Director for the Lighthouse of Manhattan during which time she produced and directed full productions of Hay Fever by Noel Coward and Enemy of the People by Ibsen with a company of legally blind actors.

Ms. Mott's developmental theatre experience consists of work with three separate groups. She was a founding director member of PlayMarket (Julie Gilbert, Artistic Director), a NYC playwrights' workshop devoted to the development of new scripts. Her directoral work with this group included five new full length scripts taken to the public staged reading level, the artistic direction of an evening of nine
new playwrights' work, and the direction of numerous developmental readings in regular lab sessions.

Another developmental group which figures prominently in Ms. Mott's career is the National Music Theater Network (Timothy Jerome, President). Ms. Mott served as Vice President of Evaluatons from 1996 through 2005, having begun as an Evaluator of new musical scripts in 1991. Since then she has valuated more than 150 new musical scripts. As Vice President, she helped develop a comprehensive evaluation policy for the organization and oversaw the selection of materials submitted each season to a guest Artistic Director who then chose three outstanding, produceable new musicals for public presentations in NYC. She is currently re-involving herself with this organization.

Finally, for many years (1988-1992), Ms. Mott was a reader/director for The Theatre of The Open Eye/New Stagings (Amie Brockway, Artistic Director). Her directoral participation in the three year Chicago-New York Staged Readings Program was a highlight of her experience with this group.

An Equity acting veteran, her favorite roles include Fanny in Funny Girl, Annie in Annie Get Your Gun, Winifred in Once Upon A Mattress, Lady Manley Prowe in Something's Afoot, the old lady in Pippin and Big Mama in Cat On A Hot in Roof.

Ms. Mott's formal education consists of a B.S. in Physical Education from Bowling Green State University (Ohio), a MA in Guidance/Counseling rom the University of Michigan and a MA in Theatre from Siena Heights College (Michigan).

Alyce Mott Writing Resume Aemresume





Sixty-one years ago on October 27, l947, in New York's historic Town Hall, The Little Orchestra Society raised its musical voice with Josef Haydn's Sinfonie Concertante. Since that auspicious debut concert, The Little Orchestra Society has injected vigor and excitement into New York's musical scene and remains "a refreshing force in the life of the city." -The New York Times

Unique at the time of its creation, the Orchestra's mission was to revive the small, elegant, compact type of ensemble for which the early great orchestral works were written and to wrest the contemporary concert repertoire from the rut of established stereotypes with premieres of important new music and restorations of long-neglected masterpieces.

Over six decades of innovative concerts have included world, American and New York premieres in all of New York's major concert halls; American and foreign tours, radio broadcasts, recordings and a complement of awards for programmatic excellence. With its various concert series at Lincoln Center, this premier education orchestra in the tri-state region presents music for all ages, from its unique Lolli-Pops™ concerts for pre-schoolers to its Sound Discoveries programs of twentieth-century music for adults.

In its adult concerts at Alice Tully Hall, The Little Orchestra Society has introduced more than 65 world premieres of works by composers ranging from Franz Schubert to Douglas Moore and David Diamond; more than l75 American and New York premieres from Antonio Vivaldi to John Corigliano and Christopher Rouse; and revivals of many long-neglected orchestral pieces from Muzio Clementi to Sergei Rachmaninoff and Aaron Copland. By means of ingenious concert versions, more than 60 operas have been offered with outstanding success to Little Orchestra subscribers, including first American performances of Richard Strauss's Daphne, Intermezzo and Die Frau ohne Schatten; Gaetano Donizetti's Maria Stuarda; Hector Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini; Leos Janacek's Jenufa, and Antonio Vivaldi's L'Olimpiade, Arsilda, regina di Ponto and Tamerlano.

The Little Orchestra Society's current Sound Discoveries concerts of twentieth-century music are unique informances which involve the audience with the historical milieu of the music through engaging dialogue in addition to performance.

Vivaldi's Venice, the orchestra's enormously successful spring festival at Alice Tully Hall, continues to offer an in-depth look at Antonio Vivaldi's life and times through a comprehensive presentation of his compositional output. During the last decade, audiences have been re-introduced to oratorios, operas, concerti, chamber music, cantatas, orchestral pieces and transcriptions of the Venetian master and his contemporaries. The Little Orchestra Society has become the foremost Vivaldi orchestra in America.

The first orchestra in New York to present professional classical music concerts for children ages six to twelve (l948), its Happy Concerts for Young People at Avery Fisher Hall have provided over one million children a first acquaintance with great music and have been broadcast nation-wide to hundreds of thousands of homes. These concerts have won the coveted George Foster Peabody Award for outstanding and venturesome programming. The Society, conducted by Dino Anagnost, recorded three works from the Happy Concerts repertoire - Peter and the Wolf Gerald McBoing Boing, and A Zoo Called Earth, which was nominated for a Grammy Award.

The Orchestra's l986-87 season launched the extremely popular Lolli-Pops™ series, concerts for pre-school youngsters ages three to five. As a child's first introduction to live classical music, children learn about music as Mr. Maestro and four animal characters named Bang, Buzz, Toot and Bow - representing the four families of the orchestra - involve them in performances that weave together music, theater, dance and art.

In 1980, Maestro Anagnost initiated Chance for Children, a community outreach and arts education program that offers children from pre-kindergarten through high school the opportunity to hear and learn about classical music through student and teacher workshops integrating the live concert experience into the curriculum. Since this program began, The Little Orchestra Society has introduced the glories of classical music to over one million metropolitan area young people.

Unique among established orchestras, The Little Orchestra Society has had only two conductors in its 60+ year history, FounderThomas Scherman, who remained its music director until his death in 1979 and Dino Anagnost.

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