My Undying Love:   An Amusement

Melissa Shiflett


Performed by

Rachel Arky --  Girl

Peter Clark   --   Bear

Michael Dye   --   Robin

Alexander Ebin   --   Goatherd

Silvie Jensen   --   Witch / Mother

Elizabeth Shannon -- Milkmaid

The Orchestra
Piano:   Melissa Shiflett
Cello:   Arthur Cook
Clarinet:   Gary Dranch


Stage Direction:   Ruth Aleskovsky

Musical Direction:   Melissa Shiflett

Choreography:   Beth Leonard

Lighting Design:   Carolyn Lord

Costume Design:   Coleen Scott

Set Design:   Ruth Aleskovsky

Production Manager:   Rie Kano


Co-Producer:   Douglas Anderson

Co-Producer:   Melissa Shiflett


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My Undying Love

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My Undying Love

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Synopsis of the Opera


is just that -- an amusement. A one hour chamber opera with plenty of action, it opens in “Real-time” with a mother and daughter separated by two spotlights, holding forth on their opinions about dolls and stuffed animals. Tempers flare as the mother threatens to throw all of the girl’s toys out. The mother exits in a huff, and the girl storms upstage to begin her elaborate fantasy play with a vengeance. The “Play-time” setting is a clearing inside a forest.  Here, the girl’s character is called Girl, and the mother is present (in the Girl’s play) as the Witch. A Bear and a Robin appear (human-sized), and there are two rustics; the Milkmaid and the Goatherd. The games begin: the Witch spies on the Girl, the Girl and the Bear practice their dying routine, and the Witch is disturbed by the Girl’s friendship with the Bear. She is jealous. The rustics look for a place to declare their undying love to each other, and then split up when they hear the Witch’s pessimistic prophecy about their prospects for true love. She’s just playing with them! The Witch poisons Bear’s blackberries, a mock funeral in New Orleans style follows, the Bear wakes up and plays a nasty practical joke on the Witch, who is currently busy trying to seduce the Robin, an inveterate family man (bird). 

Everyone gangs up on the Witch and they force an apology out of her, but she really doesn’t mean it. There is finally a sort of reconciliation that takes place, and the Rustics do get back together.  All kinds of undying love take place; friendship, mother/daughter, and romantic love. The opera closes in “Real time” as the mother and girl strike a truce. There is now a certain amount of affection between them, which feels poignant and joyful. The tone of the opera is incredibly silly, touching but not sentimental. The characters are exaggerated, yet plain-spoken. The music is lyric, and syncopated; an old-time jazz flavor surfaces often.

List of Characters

    Girl   --------------------------   Soprano

Mother/Witch  --------------------------  Mezzo-Soprano

Milkmaid  --------------------------  Mezzo-Soprano

Goatherd  --------------------------  Tenor

Robin  --------------------------  Tenor

Bear  --------------------------  Baritone




Piano   --   Clarinet in B-flat   --   Violoncello




Comments on  The American Chamber Opera Company’s

Workshop Production of

My Undying Love: An Amusement

My Undying Love” is an utter delight.   Melodic, funny, interesting, complex, melodic, oh, and did I mention melodic?

Susan Loesser, author of A MOST REMARKABLE FELLA: Frank Loesser and the Guys and Dolls in His Life, 1/19/08

“My Undying Love” was such a delight—light-hearted and at times quite silly, but phantastical (and crazy) throughout.   I loved it.

Quentin Kim, pianist and composer, graduate student, Julliard School, 1/19/08

Brava, brava!!   It was a great evening.   I’m so impressed by the way “My Undying Love” has grown in depth and character development.   The band was great and the diction was excellent—a very fine cast in every respect.

Elliot Levine, founder of The Western Wind Ensemble, 1/19/08

Like life itself!   BEAUTIFUL!!! Fascinating! Passionate! Painful! Rhythmically compelling! Funny! Sexy! BEAUTIFUL!! Tragic! Ephemeral!   It moved me deeply.   It’s more than an amusement!!  

Nancy Fales Garrett, playwright/librettist: SOME SWEET DAY and DORA, 1/19/08

The New York Opera Project is very proud to have been a sponsor of “My Undying Love”, the new chamber opera by Melissa Shiflett.   I personally feel it is an enchanting work that is accessible to both children and more mature audiences.   I look forward to its continued success.

Fredrick Martell, Artistic Director (New York Opera Project), 4/20/08



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