The libretto of A Day at the Beach is comprised of three intertwining tales based on The Hare and the Tortoise, The Fox and the Grapes, and The Ants and the Grasshopper from Aesop's Fables.
Designed to introduce children to concepts associated with opera, A Day at the Beach is composed for four adult voices (soprano, mezzo soprano, tenor and baritone) with piano accompaniment. It is in one act with three scenes.
Like all opera, it is dramatic, with singing and costumes. Like a play, it also involves acting. And like a musical, there is dance. A Day at the Beach may most accurately be defined as an operetta. It is shorter than an opera, is based on a light and humorous theme, and has some spoken dialogue. This little opera also contains mime.
A Day at the Beach (2015)
An operetta for the enjoyment of children and adults
Libretto by Linda Lee Harper
Fox (mezzo soprano)
Ants (stage prop)
Duration: about 25 minutes
Richard Maltz Music (ASCAP)
A colony of Ants is collecting crumbs near a food vendor at a beach festival. Grasshopper dances and plays his fiddle. The hard working Ants disapprove of his ‘all fun and games’ attitude toward life. They complain to Fox and she expresses their concerns to Grasshopper.
He explains that he doesn’t need to store up any food for the winter. All he needs is his fiddle.
Hare has challenged Tortoise to a race. They will run on a path which winds through the festival area and ends at a dock overlooking the ocean. Tortoise knows Hare is speedy but plans to do his best. Hare proclaims that if Tortoise wins, she will eat Fox’s hat. Fox counts off the start of the race and Hare races way out ahead of Tortoise. Fox becomes bored and decides to try the game of chance kiosk. It has low hanging fruit on fake tree branches and a grand prize at the top- a ripe, juicy bunch of grapes. While he fiddles away, Grasshopper keeps an eye on Fox. She discards the low hanging fruit grabbed while trying to win the grapes. No matter how hard she tries, she cannot reach the bunch, and eventually, becomes disgusted. Grasshopper thinks about retrieving the discarded pieces of fruit but is too busy making music.
During the race, Hare makes fun of Tortoise. Then, figuring she could easily catch him later in the race, decides to take a nap. But Tortoise remains focused and nears the dock before she awakes. Grasshopper begs the Ants for some food but they refuse him. He is hungry and regrets not having collected any for the winter. Hare finally wakes up, leaps into a trot, and then practically flies toward the finish line just in time to see Tortoise win the race! She runs so fast that she can’t stop and splashes right into the ocean! Fox and Grasshopper congratulate Tortoise. Fox, Hare and Grasshopper realize that they have not made good choices. Hare tries to keep her promise and struggles to eat Fox’s hat. In the end, they all decide to be kind to each other. Fox and the Ants share a peach with Grasshopper, and Hare gives Tortoise a kiss!