Music & Libretto by Curtis Hughes

Directed by Copeland Woodruff & Giselle Ty 

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World Premiere - September 25, 2014 by Guerilla Opera

…well-crafted music … Hughes’ score for RareBit features an eclectic wash of sounds, with low buzzing electronics mixing with angular riffs from winds, vibraphone, and drums, expertly played…” BOSTON CLASSICAL REVIEW



RareBit or, The Further Adventures of Sally Gasco and Her Amazing Free Range Sandwich is a micro-opera with music and libretto by Curtis K. Hughes. It was commissioned as a part of Guerilla Opera’s experimental production entitled Let’s Make a Sandwich, in which two operas were presented twice, with separate stagings by two directors, Copeland Woodruff and Giselle Ty. The librettos were both freely adapted from the same source material, a 1950 short informational film called Let’s Make a Sandwich.

“When I began to work on a scenario for RareBit, I regarded the 1950 “Let’s Make a Sandwich” film as an odd, distant cultural relic. I became interested in depicting Sally Gasco, the young girl in the film, as she might appear today, as well as the more absurd notion of how the “rarebit” sandwich itself might appear, either as an imaginary figment or a ghostly manifestation. Meanwhile, there is a memory of a disembodied voice that offers both comforting guidance and outrageous condescension.

As I composed the music, I started to develop a more emotional attachment to this strange little story. But only as it went into production did I realize that I recognized something of myself in Sally. Imagining Sally trying to sell her sandwich, I noted with discomfort that as a composer I know what it is like to attempt to offer up something to the world that is the product of obscure and unwieldy practice, to try to sell it (so that it might be valued), yet to disdain the idea that a commercial value could be attached to it. Sally in the sandwich shop is perhaps a vagabond, but she genuinely wishes for someone to consume what she offers and to be nourished by it.  She wants to fulfill someone else’s desires, yet she doesn’t want to relinquish control.

Musically, RareBit contains straightforward thematic materials, but at times they are subject to obscure and ambiguous processes of transformation and are in an almost constant state of transition. To suit the storyline, I sought to create obvious organic connections in the music, as well as flagrant non-sequiturs and extramusical references. In addition to Guerilla Opera’s distinctive instrumental trio, I used prerecorded sounds that could all have been generated by studio technology of the 1950s.

For me it has, in fact, been exhilarating to relinquish control of my little tragicomic opera into the hands of talented collaborators, and I hope that you, the audience, will make it your own through your experience of it.  I entreat you: make it your sandwich!” —Curtis Hughes



Described as "fiery" by the New York Times and "colorfully scored" by the Boston Globe, the music of CURTIS K. HUGHES is characterized by its rhythmic restlessness, its harmonic adventurousness and its often volatile mix of diverse stylistic elements and political subtexts. He has written for Tony Arnold, New Gallery Concert Series, Transient Canvas, Boston Musica Viva, and Guerilla Opera with performances across the world from Vermont's Yellow Barn to Bulgaria's Here/Now New Music Festival. A professor of composition at the Boston Conservatory since 2008, Curtis was a fellow at Tanglewood, and has served as composer-in-residence for Collage New Music and the Radius Ensemble. His music can be heard on the Albany, GM, New Focus, and Cauchemar labels.

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Brian Church, baritone
Aliana de la Guardia, soprano
Patrick Massey, tenor
Amy Advocat, clarinets
Kent O’Doherty, saxophones
Mike Williams, percussion

Copeland Woodruff and Giselle Ty, stage directors
Julia Noulin-Merat and Andrea Nice, scenic designers
Neil Fortin, costume designer
Tlaloc Lopez-Watermann, lighting designer
Mark DiGiovanni, technical director