The Leopard


The Leopard  was my third opera collaboration with poet and librettist J. D. McClatchy.   I completed the score in February, 2018, just two months before McClatchy’s death.   Commissioned by American Opera Projects, with funds provided by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation and the Paul Underwood Charitable Trust, the work is based on the internationally acclaimed 1958 novel Il Gattopardo by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. (The 1962 film by Lucchino Visconti, also based on the novel, is equally well-known.)


McClatchy and the composer after a presentation at the Colony Club in 2016

In March, 2016, the Manhattan School of Music, in collaboration with American Opera Projects, presented 4 scenes in workshop as part of its “Page to Stage” series. Anne Shikany directed and Andrew Altenbach conducted, with music direction by Scott Rednour.

l-r: Martin Case,Anna Dugan, Brittany Bellacosa, Hidenori Inoue, Tim Sirinunthikal, Michael Gracco, Oliver Sewell, Blake Friedman, Janet Todd, Phlippe L’Esperance, Kayla Fuentes.  

Photo credit: Matthew Gray,American Opera Projects (photo used on this site’s main page.)

On September 30th, 2016, thanks to the Boston Conservatory,  excerpts were recorded at the Berklee College of Music’s Studio One. This recording was one of their first collaborations since the two conservatories merged the year before. Here’s a video of Andrew Altenbach conducting Angelica’s aria “I Am Angelica”.


Lauren Cook, soprano, Andrew Altenbach, conductor

I am Angelica
I am Angelica . . .

[This, as she comes forward. Then she stops to looks around the room.]

Here I am at last.
Oh my, here I am at last.
And you must be Concetta!

I know all about you—
How you tease the priest,
Your favorite color, favorite flower,
The glamorous parties you’ve been to.
And I am going to like this house.
I am going to like this house very much.

I came through the garden,
So silvery and so lush.
And just look at that chandelier,
Each crystal a dusty teardrop,
Each candle patient for a flame,
Each echo ringing down the hall,
Each mirror with its tales to tell
Of who confessed to it, who cursed in it, who kissed it.

Oh, I am going to like this house very much.
Here I am at last.
Oh my, here I am at last!
Dear Concetta, I hope we will be friends.

A little later in the opera, Don Fabrizio (the “Leopard”) is asked by a representative of the new, united republic of Italy, to represent Sicily in parliament.  He declines the offer in his aria “Sleep.”

Here is a recording, also with the Boston Conservatory Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Altenbach, with baritone Michael Miller.

Sleep(The Boston Conservatory Orchestra; Andrew Altenbach, conductor; Michael Miller, baritone)


Sleep, sleep is what Sicilians want.
They will always hate whoever tries to wake them,
Even in order to bring them gifts.
Our sensuality longs for oblivion.
Our violence longs for death.
Our languor longs for voluptuous immobility,
Which in the end is death itself.
From this comes our power.
The lag in our artistic life.
From this comes the myths we love
Because they plunge us back into a past
That attracts us only because it is dead.

You must excuse me, dear man.
I belong to an unlucky generation,
Swung between the old world and the new,
And ill at ease in both.
You need young men,
Bright young men
Who ask “how” rather than “why.”

I would suggest you ask Calogero Sedàra.
He has power.
He has no illusions, but is clever enough
To know how to create them when needed.
He’s the man for you.
Sleep, sleep is what Sicilians want.
Don Calogero is wide awake.
He’s the man for you.