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Guide to the Donald Pippin Collection MUS.0003
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The Donald Pippin Collection consists primarily of Pippin's numerous English translations of operatic libretto. Additional materials include facsimiles of over 300 print media reviews of Pocket Opera productions; copies of two anthologies published by Pippin, "A pocketful of lyrics" and " As the lights go up…: tales from the opera"; a speech on Offenbach given by Pippin in San Francisco in 1996; a tribute ode by Anne Dudley on the occasion of Pippin's 60th birthday; and finally an interview with Pippin published in Journal Français d'Amérique in 1996.
Born in Zebulon, North Carolina, and educated at Harvard University, Donald Pippin began his musical career as an accompanist at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet in New York City. In 1952, Pippin moved to San Francisco, and has been an integral part of that city's artistic life since then. He did not immediately find a showcase for his talents following his move to the Bay Area. He therefore started his own recital series at North Beach's hungry i, and later at Opus One. From here, Pippin branched into small chamber ensemble presentations, working with Bay Area musicians, to present works across multiple genres, from medieval and baroque, to contemporary music, often by California composers. During the 1960s, these performances developed into a series entitled Sunday Evening Concerts, held at the Old Spaghetti Factory in San Francisco, that would become the city's primary home for chamber music. Unexpectedly, these predominantly instrumental chamber music performances metamorphosed into vocal recitals, culminating in a number of one-act operas which became very popular with audiences at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Pippin felt strongly about making opera accessible to as wide an audience as possible and therefore started to create original English language transcriptions of each work. These translations have since become the core of Pippin's musical life, encompassing a wide range of genres, nationalities, and musical styles. In 1975, Pippin took on his boldest move to date by presenting Verdi's little performed opera, King for a Day. From its success sprung "Pocket Opera," an organization dedicated to presenting professional performances of operatic works in intimate, intelligible productions at affordable prices. In 1977, prompted by the success of these early performances, members of the audience met and incorporated Pocket Opera as a non-profit organization. By 1979, a subscription series was established, and the size of the audience forced the company out of the North Beach cabaret halls it had occupied and into the theaters of San Francisco. In the years since, Pocket Opera has performed an annual spring season with a growing repertory of operas. The many achievements of the company include rediscoveries, premieres, and revitalization of works long neglected--some of them previously unperformed in the United States. The Pocket Opera Press published Pippin's translations which are now performed by companies throughout the country: from San Diego to Philadelphia and from Houston to Ann Arbor. Pocket Opera's performances have been broadcast in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere, some live broadcasts reaching as many as 10,000 listeners. Pippin has identified many notable singers and has been instrumental in nurturing their careers. Some singers who started with Pocket Opera have gone on to sing in major opera companies in the United States and abroad. More information on Pippin and Pocket Opera can be found in "A Pocketful of Wry: An Impresario's Life in San Francisco and the History of the Pocket Opera, 1950s-2001"
351 computer file(s) - 72 PDF documents; 276 TIF facsimiles; 2 MS Word 97-2003 documents.
Property rights reside with repository. Publication and reproduction rights reside with the creators or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Head Librarian of the Stanford Music Library.