Strawberry Fields

Strawberry Fields

Year: 1999

Title: Strawberry Fields

Heading: an opera in one act

First Performances:
24 July 1999
Glimmerglass, Cooperstown, NY
Joyce Castle/Jeffery Lentz / Glimmerglass Opera / Stewart Robinson

12 November 1999
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center
New York City Opera

19 January 2000
WNET's Great Performances

S,M,A,T,Bar; small roles:S,T,2Bar 2.2.corA.2(II=bcl).2— tgl/claves/tom-t/susp.cym/tambharppft(=cel) strings

Duration: 38'

Libretto: A. R. Gurney

Recording: strawberry fields

Mr. Gurney offers some lovely comic turns-the woman's explication of activities in the park in operatic terms is very funny-and Mr. Torke has supplied the most variegated, mature score this listener has heard from him. It is characteristically eclectic...but also uncharacteristically gentle and soft textured, even unabashedly pretty. —The New York Times

It is a moving work- at the opening performance, tears in the audience flowed nearly as plentiful as on a good "Madame Butterfly" night. —New York Newsday

[Strawberry Fields is] the clear audience favorite.
—Time Magazine

Program Note:
Srawberry Fields is Act II of a trilogy called Central Park, jointly commissioned by Glimmerglass Opera, New York City Opera, and WNET's Great Performances Series. It includes Deborah Drattell's and Wendy Wasserstein's Act I, "The Festival of Regrets" and Robert Beaser's and Terrance McNally's Act III, "The Food of Love".


THE OLD LADY, a rich, old lady, Mezzo-Soprano
THE STUDENT, a graduate student, Tenor
THE SON, to Old Lady, Baritone
THE DAUGHTER, to Old Lady, Soprano
THE NURSE, to Old Lady, Contralto
THE BOY, Tenor
THE GIRL, Soprano
Chorus, various people of all ages

Time and Place

A warm autumn afternoon- Strawberry Fields, Central Park- New York City

Here are the credits to the premiere production at Glimmerglass Opera (July 24, 1999):

"Central Park"
Act 2, Strawberry Fields

conductor..... Stewart Robertson
director..... Mark Lamos
sets..... Michael Yeargan
costumes..... Candice Donnelly
lighting..... Robert Wierzel

The Old Lady..... Joyce Castle
The Student..... Jeffrey Lentz
The Workman..... Daniel Ihasz
The Son..... John Hancock
The Boy..... Enrique Abdala
The Girl..... Kelly E. Kaduce
The Panhandler..... Troy Cook
The Nurse..... Barbara LeMay
The Daughter..... Margaret Lloyd


The setting is Strawberry Fields in Central Park on a warm autumn afternoon. A respectable but confused Old Lady, has wandered into the park and sits down on a bench, imagining that it is her seat at the opera, and that the events unfolding in the park constitute the show. A Student, intrigued, plays along with her fantasy. Some young people enter with guitars and sing in memory of John Lennon who, like the Old Lady's beloved Verdi, wrote songs of brotherhood and freedom. Her Son enters and tries to coax her to come along to a nursing home. The Old Lady refuses to go, saying that if she does she will miss the opera; the Student supports her position. Frustrated, her Son calls his sister on his cell phone, hoping that together they will be able to convince their mother to leave the city. Meanwhile, the Old Lady comes to believe that the Student is her lost husband; together they enjoy the "opera" as it proceeds around them. When the Son, Daughter and a Nurse approach with a wheelchair to take Her to the nursing home, it is too late: She is already gone.