Directors' Choice Award Winner
by Patricia Haddad
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La Giara (the water jug), is a symbolic container of traditions in this musical narrative – and
when broken — animates the lives of three generations of women in one family. Water, mirrors and reSlection serve as metaphors throughout the story in the process of tragedy, illumination, and evolution of characters, as some break from the past and defy their own cultural norms, while others remain.
A story rooted both in the past, yet relevant today, La Giara is about longing for our past and the cultures from which we originate. Narrated by 5 family characters, along with Sicilian Water God, Anapos, whose commentary and timeless presence represents other- world realms and Sicilian culture, characters perform dramatic/comedic songs touching on the notion of family, human fragility and strength, illustrating psychological struggles of the Minissale family as they adapt in America.
Patricia Haddad’s auto-biographical music work addresses themes of immigration, oppression, mental illness, and sexism that her Sicilian family experienced in adapting to a new world. La Giara’s narrative and powerful music uplifts and offers meaning to women and the immigrant story, reaching audiences of all ages, ethnic, and socio-economic groups.
Nunzio thinks he wears the pantaloni in his family until his wife and two daughters suddenly disappear …
When young, arrogant Nunzio Minissale cuts in line at his home-town water fountain and breaks his aunt Vincenza’s heirloom jug, he is blamed for creating a family schism and unleashing a lifetime curse, along with Sicilian water spirit, Anapos. The curse follows Nunzio from Sicily to America and surfaces with a force when the abusive Nunzio forbids his daughter Norma’s star-crossed love. Norma is impelled to Slee, joined by her sister and mother, ultimately diverting their family’s destiny.
Nunzio is desperate to win them back, buys an impressive mansion, and convinces his family to return. But inside this fairy tale palazzo, full of gold mirrors, fountains, singing birds and operatic music, the Minissale mansion charms only those on the outside looking in. For inside, sad spirits long to quell the family curse; the water jug and mansion have only become symbolic containers of nocuous traditions and oppression. The 3 women are urged to break from Nunzio’s control, however at a price. Severing from their past creates a void and leaves them with a deep longing for a heritage that they have lost.
NARRATOR: ANAPOS – Sicilian Water God/Goddess (*and Shadow Puppeteer)
Sa=rical, playful, compassionate, ANAPOS is a Sicilian Water God/Goddess ﬁgure, unleashed in the breaking of the water jug, and the ins=gator of the family curse. ANAPOS, is the main storyteller and ul=mately plays a part in family!s healing. Ageless. Performs Shadow Play.
* At the discre=on of the director, Shadow Play and mythological ﬁgure/narrator ANAPOS can
have a larger presence, and use puppetry if appropriate.
NUNZIO MINISSALE (Maria!s son, father to Norma and Mimi)
(Bass Baritone) Age span, Mid 17 - 70s; The one who breaks the water jug, the impetus that
drives the story. A moody, precocious, rascal who outgrows his Sicilian village and makes his way to America.Handsome, and charming, yet vulnerable, lonely, and explosive, marries Annunziata and becomes a tyrant. The so-called villain of the story.
ANNUNZIATA PICCIONE (Vincenza!s daughter, mother to Norma and Mimi)
(Legit soprano) Age span - mid 20 -70s. Talented, ambi=ous, and levelheaded Annunziata is
wooed by Nunzio. When betrayed by Nunzio, she ﬁnds her own independence.
NORMA MINISSALE (Annunziata & Nunzio!s daughter, born in Phila. 1920s)
(Belt soprano) mid 20- 40s, The disobedient daughter, ﬂirta=ous and reckless Norma breaks
from family tradi=on and is the ins=gator of the family women!s "runaway” plan; she never gives into her father!s dominance and the only character who creates a brighter future for herself.
MIMI MINISSALE (Annunziata & Nunzio!s daughter, born in Phila. 1920s)
(Legit soprano) mid 20-40s, The beauty of the two daughters, cultured, coy and obedient; lives
her tragic life catering to her parents in their dark, lonely mansion, robbed of a normal life and a love rela=onship. The one most damaged by the "water jug curse”.
EUGENE COHEN (Norma!s Jewish boyfriend. Appears early 1940s)
(Tenor) mid 20s; a violinist in love with Norma. When harassed by Nunzio about Norma!s whereabouts, a guilty Eugene divulges their secret.
MINOR ROLES/DOUBLES/EXTRAS (townspeople, shop workers, shadow play):
MARIA MINISSALE (Nunzio!s mother in Sicily) circa 1900 (mezzo soprano) mid 30s, typical Sicilian woman who has educated herself, wants more for Nunzio beyond their limited circumstances.
SALOON GIRL(S): ﬂirtaous American Saloon Girl (Welcome)
MALE: GIUSSEPE (Nunzio!s father), STREET GUY (Welcome), BUDDY, SHADOW ENACTMENTS.
Proposed Work In Progress:
La Giara addresses themes of immigration, sexism, mental illness, and transcendence, with a traditional story that is universally relevant today. It is suggested for theaters seeking a work that lies between musical theatre and opera, suited for well-trained singers with solid acting skills, seeking songs with emotional depth and range. Written in a variety of styles (jazz, opera, music theatre, Brazilian rhythm) songs are relatable to a wide range of audiences.
La Giara lends itself to either a traditional or a contemporized theatricalization, with opportunity to use Shadow play or puppetry, choreography, and video projection for creative teams to collaborate.
La Giara can be performed by 6 main characters with doubling, or a larger cast to Sill out minor characters/chorus numbers. Instrumentation can be as simple as piano plus cast, or an ensemble adding bass, guitar, accordion, mandolin, and percussion. Ensemble players may perform on stage as integrated characters.
Simple scenery has been imagined with one proscenium on wheels and 6 tiers, using lighting, shadow puppetry, and video projection for visual enhancement.
About the Author:
Patricia Haddad grew up singing and dancing in professional musical theater, studying voice, piano, jazz, and composition, earning degrees in Classical voice and jazz piano performance. A proliSic writer, Patricia, along with partner, Orlando Haddad, have written and produced 8 albums. Patricia’s book, La Giara (The Water Jug), based on her family’s immigration story, inspired La Giara’s 2 act musical of 14 memorable songs.
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