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Song/Aria Research Guide – NOTE SOURCES!!!

Title: “Caralee”

Larger Work (if applicable): 35MM

Year (composed and/or published): 2009

Composer Info: Ryan Scott Oliver


● Dates: August 27, 1984-present
● Brief Bio: Oliver as of late has been an innovative writer in his own individual
style, both musically and lyrically. He has experimented with both song cycles
and book musicals, including 35MM, Jasper in Deadland, and Mrs. Sharp. He is
currently serving on the adjunct faculty for Pace University in New York City.
Oliver has many stand-alone songs that can be sung in auditions and in the
context of the show. His material is known for being challenging, yet incredibly
rewarding. He also isn’t shy of adding a rock sound to his material.
● How does this song fit within the composer’s output? “Caralee” fits Oliver’s
other material in a very natural way. It’s pushing the envelope on being a little
risky, and it has a fun and creative melody. The accompaniment is choppy and
robotic and has a lot of strange harmonics.

Available Recordings & Artist (original cast, revival cast, aria compilations): The
Original Cast Recording features Jay Armstrong Johnson as Man 2, who sings
“Caralee”.

Instructions
● Key Signature(s): B Major and C Major.
● Time Signature(s): 4/4.
● Tempo Marking(s): Playfully (132).
● Form (How is the song or aria segmented?): The song is segmented with a verse
that happens twice, and then the “chorus” is introduced, immediately followed
by a repetition of the verse. The chorus then comes back in in full force. The
verse takes it back, and then the key change happens with a completely
different feeling. More urgency. It ends with a quote of the verse
accompaniment in the new key.
● Translation of musical terms (e.g. slargando, colla voce):
o All markings are in English.
● How is the text reflected in the composer’s instructions? The text, which is
quite funny, is shared between the sung melody, which is directed towards an
audience of people talking about Caralee, and spoken dialogue to Caralee
directly. All the rhythms are in a speech-like rhythm.

Accompaniment (consider support, doubling of vocal line, texture …)


● What does the pre-, inter- and/or post-lude tell you about your character or
situation? The prelude, originally harpsichord and incredibly (and intentionally)
flat strings. It gives a sense of uneasiness before the vocals come in.
● Was the piece intended for piano or orchestral accompaniment? “Caralee” was
originally intended for piano (keyboard), violin/viola, cello, drums, and guitar.
The accompaniment in the version from the vocal selections has a piano
reduction of the band parts that is incredibly supportive.

Dedicatee with circumstances (if any): Not specified.

Big Picture
● How does this song or aria fit into the larger work? The song comes fourth of
the main songs in the show. There are a lot of transitional songs that aren’t
typically performed outside of doing the work as a whole. Since 35MM is a song
cycle, there isn’t any tie to the other songs, except for the tie that they’re all
based off of 35MM photographs.
● What happens before and after this song or aria? Before the song is the
electrifyingly fun screlty “On Monday,” and after “Caralee” is one of my
favorite songs from this show, and maybe one of my favorite solos ever, “The
Party Goes with You.”

One-Sentence Summary: Caralee is the WORST.


History: (questions are examples –identify why this song is interesting)
● Did the poet or composer write this song with a specific situation or person in mind? The song is based off
of a photograph
● Is there a story about how the song was cut from one show or opera and added to another? No.
● Was a first set of lyrics was scrapped for a different lyricist’s words? No.
● Did the composer set this text multiple times? No.
● Have other composers set this text? No.
● What other questions can you answer from your background research? It’s licensed through Samuel
French. It’s incredibly interesting that it is completely based off of different photographs.

Your Text (poem or lyric)*


What/where/when/why/who + how?
What: A man talking about the kid he babysits, which then turns him into selling her
to someone.
Where: The street.
When: During the day.
Why: Because he can’t take babysitting her anymore. She’s ruining his life.
Who: A Manny. (Male nanny. What you already knew that.)
How: By going on “a walk.”
Where do changes occur? The fast section where he explains all the potential great
things Caralee can do for whoever she is with changes to C major and the eighth notes
in the accompaniment get quicker.
Define any unknown or unfamiliar words:

*If you are not familiar with analysis, consider the “Poetry Detective” exercise of
Carol Kimball:
● What does the title suggest? Someone named Caralee. Before I listened, I thought it might be about a
relationship, but it’s definitely not.
● Where does the poem take place? I could see it taking place on the street. Like a barter-type thing.
● Who is speaking? Is it a named character? An implied character? A manny. That’s the name of the
character. A male nanny.
● Is s/he alone? If not, to whom is s/he speaking? He could be alone and going crazy. But more than likely,
no.
● Can you determine the emotional state of the character? Frazzled. Tired. Exhausted. Eager to get her out
of his hands.
● What might have happened before the poem begins? Caralee makes the Manny’s life a living hell.
● Or – what is happening at present? He is trying to sell Caralee.
● Can you tell what kind of inner “rhythm” the character has? Does s/he move/think quickly or slowly? Is
this the result of the dramatic situation or his/her personality? Definitely thinks quickly. Frantic to get her
out of his grasp. He moves quickly. The result of the dramatic situation could be a result of his
personality. Maybe all the problems are in his head.
● Is sound an active element of the poem? No.
● Are there unusual words in the poem? Not at all.
● Does the imagery in the poem produce a particular effect? Does the poem have its own vernacular? Does
it speak from a specific culture? The imagery makes me think of a nursery. Nasty stuff that babies or
toddlers do. Like boogers and things. The poem doesn’t really have its own vernacular
● Is the poem the result of an identifiable historic moment? No.

For your benefit, write the text, including a translation as needed. Keep it for further
contemplation.

Caralee is a terror.
Caralee (Caralee, don’t suck on that.) pays the bills.
(Drop it. Drop it. Drop it.)
Life as her “manny” beats a life on my fanny, still,
Caralee…
Oy. She kills.

(Spit. Spit. Spit. Thank you.)


Caralee has toy scissors
With which Caralee makes small cuts.
Now, you don’t try to take them.
Try to borrow and break them, and
Caralee (Goddammit) stabs your nuts.
Gently, but repeatedly.

Caralee, Caralee, Caralee threw up and poo’d on my Macbook.

Caralee knows the “F Word.”


In fact, Caralee wrote a song.
Heh, it’s actually hilarious in appropriate areas,
But Caralee’s Father’s Charity Banquet would be wrong.
But now, we know!

Caralee, Caralee, Caralee, I think that she may be Satan.


Caralee, Caralee, Caralee, I swear to God, she is Satan.

Caralee likes spaghetti.


And Caralee only likes spaghetti.
Spaghetti to eat with and spaghetti to throw with.
To get mush between feet with,
And shout “Homo” and “No” with,

Oh, Caralee, Caralee


Is yours for fifteen minutes,
Here’s fifty dollars, I’ll be right back.
Mister, Caralee’s persuasive,
She could help you sell your crack.
Or if you simply need to barter,
She’s a very easy sale.
But please don’t throw her in the trash
Or try to send her in the mail
Because she’ll just come back to haunt you
With her scissors and her smile
And it’s been awfully nice to see you,
Thanks, and so long for a while, ha ha ha,

Now I’m free, now I’m free


From Caralee!