A Hand of Bridge AND The Scarf
by Austin Community College

Apr. 26 - Apr. 27

Directed by:

Dr. Blythe Cates 

Dr. Wayne Davis


Dr. Shane Anderson

Dr. Valeria Diaz




The Scarf Casts:

Miriam: Catalina Hill* and Sarah Urias+

Reuel: Jalen Easley

Postman: Keaton Casper

Hand of Bridge Program Notes

Nine minutes. That is the approximate duration of Samuel Barber’s one-act opera A Hand of Bridge, which premiered at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, in 1959. Setting a libretto by Barber’s longtime partner and collaborator Gian Carlo Menotti (also the founder of the festival in Spoleto), A Hand of Bridge uses a card game between two unhappily married couples as a framing device to explore the characters’ private thoughts. The short duration, single setting, small cast, and taut form of Barber’s work are all hallmarks of the micro-opera, a small-scale genre embraced by a wide variety of composers for the last century or so. While some contemporary composers have taken up the micro-opera as a vehicle for one-off engagements, often with the intention of codifying and recording a finalized version, A Hand of Bridge has largely entered the small-opera repertoire and is still frequently performed, both by professional companies and by university opera theatres and workshops, especially in the United States. Despite its short duration (which roughly corresponds to the amount of time needed to play a hand in bridge), Barber reveals a score that it is at once strolling, preoccupied, and dark.

Common to the composer’s work, there is a high level of craftsmanship and artistry, creating an atmosphere that manages to blend malaise, boredom, lust, and longing.

CASTS: Geraldine: Kayleigh Hungerford* and Julianne Paine+

Sally: Sheryl Gilchrist* and Ana Flores+

Bill: Joesph Nguyen* and Daniel Garcia+

David: Oven Arnold



The Scarf Program Notes

The Scarf, with music by Lee Hoiby, is a one-act opera with a libretto by Harry Duncan.  It is based on the 1866 short story of Anton Chekhov, The WitchThe Scarf was first performed on June 20, 1958, at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy.  Its first U.S performance was by City Opera in NYC in 1959. 

 The opera opens in the main room of an isolated farmhouse during a storm.  The young and unhappy Miriam, who is married to the old Reuel, is occupied at the spinning wheel.  Reuel calls her to come to bed, but she does not stop spinning.  In his anger, Reuel accuses Miriam of creating storms that lead to young men visiting the farmhouse.  He calls her a witch and threatens to expose her evil ways to the preacher.  The bell of a postman is heard in the distance.  The postman is lost in the storm and finds his way to the farmhouse where he is given refuge.  Reuel takes to his bed and refuses to talk to the postman.  When the exhausted postman falls asleep, Miriam begins to weave a strange spell on the spinning wheel.  Suddenly, Reuel remembers that the postman can make the next train by taking a backroad to the station.  He wakes the postman and insists the postman leave.  As Reuel gathers the postman’s belongings, Miriam and the postman become attracted to each other, but they are interrupted by Reuel.  As the postman leaves, in the company of Reuel, Miriam gives him a scarf she has woven to wrap around his neck.  Now alone, Miriam conjures up evil spirits to bring the postman back to her, with the help of the scarf.  When Reuel returns with the scarf around his neck, Miriam flies into a rage and chokes him to death using the scarf.  After taking the scarf back, Miriam summons the postman to return. 

Lee Henry Hoiby (February 17, 1926 – March 28, 2011) was an American composer and classical pianist. Best known as a composer of operas and songs, he was a disciple of composer Gian Carlo Menotti.  Like Menotti, his works championed lyricism at a time when such compositions were deemed old fashioned.  His most well-known work is his setting of Tennessee Williams's Summer and Smoke, which premiered at the St Paul Opera in 1971.


Miriam: Catalina Hill* and Sarah Urias+

Reuel: Jalen Easley

Postman: Keaton Casper


(more information on both works is available at the ACC Music Department website -- click HERE)


A Hand of Bridge AND The Scarf
by Samuel Barber, Lee Hoiby
Austin Community College

April 26 - April 27, 2024
Austin Community College Highland Campus
6101 AIrport Drive, Highland Campus
Building 2000, second floor
Austin, TX, 78752

Make a night of it at the ACC Opera!

On April 26 and 27, 2024 at 7:30 p.m. the ACC Music Department will be hosting a short opera performance of two pieces, Samuel Barber’s “A Hand of Bridge” and Lee Hoiby’s “The Scarf”. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in music, this is the perfect opportunity to see what the ACC Music department is all about.

Highland Recital Hall, Austin Community College

Find more on this event and all the upcoming ACC Music events here!