A Christmas Memory
An opera in one act

Instrumentation: *2,*2,*2,*2/2,2,1,1/T,1P,Hp/Stgs
Duration: 67 mins.

A Christmas Memory is one of Truman Capote’s most famous and beloved stories, a tender, delicate tale of great lyric beauty. It was sensitively adapted for television by Eleanor Perry, and the resulting screenplay, directed by Frank Perry and starring Geraldine Page, was broadcast by ABC Television in December, 1966, winning the Peabody Award for the best program of the year as well as many other awards. This program is often rebroadcast for the holiday season. The opera was written as a labor of love by the composer, who was deeply moved when he first read the story and who knew he would one day set this story to music.
Brief Synopsis
Truman Capote’s short story A Christmas Memory has become a Christmas classic. Warmly lyrical, it is an autobiographical story which tells of the author's Christmas as a boy of seven with his special friend, an elderly distant cousin who, as he delicately puts it, is “still a child.” Each Christmastide they bake a huge batch of fruit cakes to send to people who’ve struck their fancy, such as the missionary to Borneo and President Roosevelt. They gather windfall pecans for the cakes, they go to the General Store to buy the ingredients, and they make a terrifying trip to the local bootlegger’s to buy the necessary whiskey. After the cakes are baked, wrapped and mailed, the Woman innocently shares the remaining whiskey with the little boy as they celebrate with increasingly inebriated tap dancing. This leads to a shattering confrontation when the Aunts, with whom they live, swoop in, leveling against the Woman charges of scandal, sin, ruination, craziness. This last hurts deeply, and the little boy consoles her after they are alone. They plan Christmas gifts for each other—kites—and they celebrate the ritual of Christmas morning and fly their kites in the meadow. As the kites rise in the distance and eventually merge into one, we sense anew their special love for one another as we feel the poignancy of this their last Christmas together.

Cast of Characters
Main Roles:
The Author - Lyric Tenor
The Woman - Lyric Soprano
Buddy (the author as a boy) - Boy Soprano

Cameo Roles:
Mr. Morrison, the grocer - Baritone
Mr. Haha Jones, the bootlegger - Bass
First Aunt - Mezzo-Soprano
Second Aunt - Contralto