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  • Monkey and Francine in the City of Tigers

Monkey and Francine in the City of Tigers

Commissioned by Houston Grand Opera
and developed in partnership with American Lyric Theater


Music by Kamala Sankaram
Libretto by David Johnston


Opera in one act
For four singers, piano, and optional hand percussion




    MONKEY - Tenor
    FRANCINE - Soprano
    MONKEY QUEEN / LORD TIGER - Mezzo-soprano

    Optional Hand Percussion - Bongos/ Shaker/ Guiro

    Note- ideally the shaker will be a caxixi, but an egg shaker or
    maracas will also work.
    As the Guiro is only used as a sound effect, it can be omitted
    if unavailable. Guiro can also be subsituted by Guira or washboard.


    CL = Clap
    SN = Snap
    SL = Slap legs
    All performers take turns serving as a NARRATOR.

    NARRATOR text is spoken, and is indicated with "x" noteheads.
    Performers do not need to approximate pitch, as in sprechstimme.
    Rather, the performer should follow the approximate contour of the notes.
    Notated rhythms should be exact.


    This piece includes several non-Western modes and scales. Here is a little more information about them, in case you'd like to become more familiar with them.

    RAGA- Ragas are found in Hindustani music, a form of classical music from Northern India. Ragas are most similar to Greek modes, like the Dorian and Phrygian scale. Ragas gain their character from the number of notes within a scale, the actual pitches, the order of pitches in ascending v. descending passages, and the relative imporatance of notes within the scale. Scales are notated using swara, which is similar to solfege in Western music:
    Sa (Do), Ri (Re), Ga (Mi) Ma (Fa), Pa (So), Da (La), Ni (Ti)

    Notes may be raised or lowered by a half step. This is usually indicated by case, so in a scale starting on C, an E flat would be written as lowercase "ga."

    Descending (avaroha) passages may use different notes than ascending (aroha) passages, so you'll usually be given the swara for each. Ragas used in this score include:

    Sudh Sarang
    Aroha - S m R M P N S
    Avaroha - S N D P M P D P m R S

    Chandranandan (Raga for the moon)
    Aroha - S G m d n S
    Avaroha - R S n d P m G m g S


    MBIRA - An Mbira (also called a Zanza, Kalimba, or thumb piano) is an African instrument. It consists of a wooden resonator and metal keys or tines. There are seven typical tunings for the Mbira, which are made up of specific intervals, rather than notes.

    This piece uses a tuning called Mahororo.

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