Music
Garth Baxter is noted as a modern traditionalist composer. This is a style that combines the traditions of form and clear melodic writing with the use of contemporary approaches to harmonies and other elements. He has composed works for various performance mediums, ranging from intimate solo and small group settings to larger ensembles such as orchestra and concert band. His compositions have been performed around the world.

Opera Compositions

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Lily

"In listening to Lily, I felt privileged to hear beautiful, powerful music, with a heart-wrenching tale of love, heartbreak, and despair. What an honor and a rich and intense experience!"
-Katherine Keem, Soprano

An opera in two acts. With libretto by Lisa VanAuken.

Based loosely on the novel The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, it tells the story the tragic descent of Lily Bart from high-society in up-state New York in the early 20th Century. This is a traditional opera--that is, one with arias, and with some grandeur. The score is full of rich melodies and is written for full orchestra. Could this be the great American opera that the world has been waiting for?

Lily, An Opera

Synopsis

Act One

Scene One: Summertime, 191*. A crowd has gathered at the palatial home of Gus and Judy Trenor; they wait to see the tableaux vivants in which their friends will appear. But no tableaux is more eagerly anticipated than Lily Bart’s. Lily flirts with Selden, who once had an affair with their hostess, Judy. Selden swears the fling is over, but Lily holds secret letters that are evidence of the affair. Lily, who has no income, forces herself to be kind to Gus Trenor, her antagonistic host, because Gus manages what little money she has and plays the stock market on her behalf.

Scene Two: The next morning, Lily is lounging beneath a tree in the morning sunlight rather than trekking off to church with her hosts. Selden stumbles upon her, and believing her to be asleep, ponders his complex feelings for the woman who is part flesh, part work of art. When Lily wakes, they engage in a flirtation that’s both flippant and serious. They nearly make their longed-for connection when a car passes and Lily fears that she will be caught. The spell breaks.

Scene Three: Evening, winter. Lily is called urgently to the Trenor house, where she finds Gus waiting for her. He is drunk and angry. He confesses that all the money that he made for her playing the stocks was fraudulent. He made no money for her; he simply gave her his money. Now, he proposes a bargain: He wants to divorce his wife. It will be easier for him if he has proof of her infidelity, and he knows that Lily holds letters between Selden and Judy. She must give him the letters or he will tell everyone that she took money from him, which will ruin her chance of making a good marriage. When she refuses to turn over the letters, he indicates he will settle for a third option: She must sleep with him—to make up for his suffering marriage bed. Distraught, Lily flees into the street. She meets Selden coming from a party. She fibs to explain why she was at the Trenors’; but Selden catches her in the lie and presumes that she is having an affair with Gus.

Act Two

Scene One: Springtime. Lily is working in a hat shop. Little by little, she has been chipping away at her debt to Gus Trenor. Gus comes to visit her to reiterate his offer: he wants to marry her. With his fortune and her capacity to charm, they will be the toast of New York. But Lily must ruin Selden to facilitate the divorce. It isn’t until Gus points out that Selden has offered no help to Lily whatsoever that Lily—hurt by Selden’s indifference—agrees to his plan.

Scene Two: Autumn at the Trenor’s. Lily plans to announce her engagement to the newly divorced Gus Trenor at a grand party. To pacify herself and to drown her own guilt over dragging Selden’s name through the mud, Lily self-medicates with laudanum. She does her best to charm, and little by little, she begins to win back her old friends. But Selden barges into the festivities, calling her out for inauthenticity. Lily accuses Selden of ignoring her plight, only to learn that he has been overseas and knew nothing of it. In turmoil, Selden flees into the street and the sound of a carriage accident is heard. Lily is told that Selden is dead. She collapses as the curtain drops.

Romance Without Words
(Romance Sans Paroles) YouTube

(Nocturne)

6+ minutes Advanced Alymar $10

This is a highly romantic work that is written in the style of a Chopin Nocturne. The themes presented here are found in Act I, Scene 2 of the opera Lily. The form is episodic with developmental work intersecting the melodic statements. This work was premiered in Rome, Italy on May 8, 2011 by Elitza Harbova.

I Will Always Be Beholden YouTube

From Act I, Scene I of Lily

Arranged for voice and piano.

This aria, sung by Lily to her main love interest Seldon, is a declaration of her dependence on others to maintain her social standing. It is written in the style of traditional operatic arias. That is to say there is strong melodic writing enveloped in a recognizable form.

I Have Said I Love You/
I Dare Not Dream YouTube

An aria and duet from Act I, Scene II of Lily, an opera.

6 minutes, piano part is arranged from orchestral score.

This ultra-romantic excerpt from Lily begins with the aria, I have said I love you, sung by the male lead, Seldon, in which he declares his love for Lily and hopes for her love. This is followed by the duet I dare not dream, in which Lily and Seldon, indeed, express their love for one another.

The Date Seller YouTube

A song from Act I, Scene I of Lily, an opera.

2 minutes, piano part is an arrangement of the orchestral score.

This song is part of the tableaux vivants that are in the opening section of scene I. It is sung by Marie-Lucette Fabienne. This is a simple, folk-like tune is sung while she is portraying the painting The Date Seller by Edwin Longsden Long.

Long Ago YouTube

An aria from Act I, Scene III of Lily, an opera.

5 minutes, piano part is an arrangement of the orchestral score.

This aria comes near the end of the first act. Lily has just realized that her life seems to be spiraling downhill. She reflects that life was so much easier before. Every thing was falling in place. Now she is in danger of losing everything and she also is concerned about the well-being of Seldon.

How Can These Hands YouTube

From Act II, Scene I of Lily

4 1/2 minutes, piano part is an arrangement of the orchestral score.

This aria is sung by Lily after she finds herself forced to work in a hat shop and discovers that she doesn't have the skills to do the work.

I Want to Imagine YouTube

From Act I, Scene II of Lily

3 minutes, for tenor and piano (arranged from the orchestral score).

This song is sung by Seldon, the male lead. He and Lily have planned to meet in the garden of an estate where they are staying as guests. When he arrives Lily is feigning sleep. Seldon sings this to her before he wakes her.

How Strange to Think YouTube

From Act II, Scene II of Lily

5 + minutes, arranged for voice and piano from the orchestral score.

This aria is sung near the beginning of the final scene of the opera. Lily is preparing for the party to announce her engagement to Gus. Marriage to Gus will put her back into a comfortable social and economic situation. There is an attendant with her who is helping her with her hair and clothes. Lily sings this song while reflecting upon her situation and that of the young woman helping her.

And tonight I have blessed news YouTube

From Act II, Scene II of Lily

Aria for baritone, 2+ minutes, intermediate.

This aria is sung by Gus at the beginning of the party that he and Lily are hosting where they will announce their wedding plans. Although Gus has shown himself to be the villainous character in the opera he shows his softer side in this romantic aria.

Is this the cost? The penalty I pay? YouTube

From Act II, Scene II of Lily

This is the tragic final aria of the opera. Lily sings it after hearing of the death of Seldon, her lover.

I shall forever love you YouTube

From Act II, Scene II of Lily

The bitter but extremely romantic aria is sung by Seldon to Lily upon learning that she is engaged to Gus whom she does not love.