The Sembrich
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Simon Mulligan at The Sembrich. Photo credit: YM Photography

MARK TWAIN & MUSIC at The Sembrich —A Studio Talk and an Opera Premiere—

MARK TWAIN & MUSIC at The Sembrich

—A Studio Talk and an Opera Premiere—

BOLTON LANDING, NY —  Though “Life on the Mississippi” and the stage of the Metropolitan Opera may seem worlds apart, the realms of Mark Twain and Marcella Sembrich merge this week on Lake George in a pair of programs entitled MARK TWAIN & MUSIC.

On Wednesday, August 23rd at 1:30 pm, The Sembrich presents “Mark Twain’s Music Box,” a program that, through narration, readings and music, explores Twain’s musical tastes and opinions — running the gamut from poignant to hilarious — as found in his writings and biographical information.  Tickets are $20.  As seating is limited, reservations are strongly recommended.

In 1878, when Twain was given a music box which had the capacity to play 10 different tunes, he had a very difficult time choosing the playlist.  This is because, while Twain was travelling in Europe to obtain an education in high-brow culture, his upbringing (and his real musical tastes) had been distinctly backwoods.

This 90-minute program features a nine-member ensemble, comprised of a narrator, a singer, two violins, oboe, cello, piano, banjo and percussion presenting a variety of musical selections, from Schubert lieder to Stephen Foster songs, all works considered by Twain to be essential listening for the culturally-sophisticated individual.

Participants in the afternoon program include mezzo-soprano Ivy Walz, Amanda Brin, violin, Jonathan Brin, cello, Anita Pawlak, oboe, David Pawlak, percussion, Crick Diefendorf, banjo and Douglas Johnson, harmonica.

Pianist Larry Hoey provides the musical direction.  Franc Laux, the creator of “Mark Twain’s Music Box,” serves as narrator.

“With this project we use fine music to teach about important history,” says Laux, who is associated with the Mark Twain House and Museum in Elmira, NY.


The writings of Mark Twain served as the source of inspiration for the chamber opera, “The Diaries of Adam and Eve” by Evan Premo which receives its New York premiere in the Sembrich studio on Saturday, August 26th at 7:30 pm.  Tickets are $40.

“The Diaries of Adam and Eve” tells the familiar story of the original man and woman in the Garden of Eden, discovering the world (and each other) for the first time.  The opera follows the pair as they are thrown out of Eden and as they come to know death, betrayal and, ultimately, love and deep companionship in their lives together.

This New York premiere at The Sembrich will reunite the cast and instrumentalists from the original 2007 Michigan performance of the opera, with Mary Bonhag as Eve, Matthew Patrick Morris as Adam and the Aeolus Quartet, whose members include Nicholas Tavini and Rachel Shapiro, violins, Greg Luce, viola and Alan Richardson, cello.

Edwin Cahill serves as stage director with composer Evan Premo overseeing the proceedings.

Described as an “intimately beautiful work” by the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus when performed by Scrag Mountain Music in Vermont last summer, the opera received its world premiere at the University of Michigan in 2007.