Opera in three acts

Lukas Foss

Text: Libretto by Alastair Reid
Publisher: Carl Fischer Music
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

Grandmother sends Griffelkin, a little devil, to the world for one day as a gift for his tenth birthday. Requesting he do one bad deed, she provides him with a vial of potion with which he can do either good or mischief. Because he finds love and does only good, at day?s end, he is tried and sentenced to return to the world as a little boy.

Griffelkin, a child-devil, on his tenth birthday in Hell, receives a gift in the form of a trip to the world. Armed with a bottle of magic liquid, he arrives where? Right here, in the U.S. The scenery leaves no doubt about it: there is a statue, a library with two stone lions, etc.

The first thing Griffelkin does is to sprinkle the statue with the magic elixir. The statue promptly responds with an aria. Then, the two lions get sprinkled, come alive, and roar a duet. Then a letterbox becomes a chatterbox.

However, at this point the story takes a serious turn. Griffelkin, who has set out to change the world to Hell, is corrupted in the course of his encounter with the world. He discovers things human. He falls in love with the blue sky, and then falls in love with a little girl.

We, the audience, learn through the eyes of our devilish protagonist what it means to be human. We learn what love is, what a mother is, what death is.

At the end of his twenty-four hours on earth, Griffelkin commits a criminal violation of his devilhood ? he commits a good deed. At the stroke of midnight, he finds himself surrounded by his fellow devils. He is on trial, and the verdict is, of course: excommunication from Hell. At dawn, we see a new Griffelkin ? a member of the human race.

Available on Rental

Scores & Parts

Griffelkin - Piano Reduction

Additional Information

Composition Date 1955
Duration 02:00:00
Orchestration Solo soprano (13), mezzo-soprano (4), alto, tenor, baritone (2), bass (2) voices; SATB chorus; 2 2 2 2 - 2 2 1 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Cel. Str.
Premiere November 6th, 1955. Adelaide Bishop (Griffelkin), NBC Opera Theatre, national telecast.