. . . . In the Smithsonian Magazine online:
Thanks to some musical sleuthing, George W. Chadwick’s ode to the now ubiquitous hot sauce brand has been revitalized by the New Orleans Opera"
|Cover art for sheet music from the original Tabasco opera, 1894. (Courtesy McIlhenny Company Archives)|
Tonight [January 25th] the New Orleans Opera will revive the 124-year-old production for the first time in over a century as part of its 75th-anniversary season. Called “George W. Chadwick’s Tabasco: A Burlesque Opera,” the already sold-out production runs through January 28 [which was yesterday] at the La Petit Théâtre de Vieux Carré in New Orleans. The tongue-in-cheek burlesque opera promises to bring Chadwick’s artistic vision back to life with a full orchestra, chorus and cast of characters, including the protagonist, a hot-tempered grand Pasha, who threatens his personal chef after taking a bite of his dinner only to find it boring and bland. (A blind beggar quickly remedies the chef’s faux pas by selling him a mysterious liquid that turns out to be Tabasco sauce.)
This is how the opera came to be in the first place -- and it was Boston, not New Orleans that was responsible:
Interestingly, McIlhenny’s company had no involvement in the original making of the opera. In fact, Shane Bernard, the McIlhenny Company’s historian, says that a group of military cadets commissioned the production as a way to raise money to help build a new armory in Boston, and they ended up pulling out all the stops.
“These well-to-do cadets hired an actual composer and librettist to create the show,” says Bernard. “We don’t know how they came up with the idea, but what it does tell us is that by 1894 Tabasco must have been a household word, otherwise it wouldn’t have made sense to everybody and the opera would have needed an explanation, but clearly it didn’t.”