Seance on a wet afternoon

By Stephen Schwartz
Based on the novel by Mark McShane
And the screenplay by Bryan Forbes

About the Work Creators Video/Audio Gallery Press Performances


Séance on a Wet Afternoon is the first opera by noted Broadway and film composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz ("Wicked", "Godspell", "Enchanted", etc.) Based on the novel by Mark McShane and the award-winning screen adaptation by Bryan Forbes, Séanceis a psychological thriller about a medium, Myra Foster, her doting husband Bill, and the spirit of their deceased eleven-year-old son, Arthur, who speaks to Myra and is her contact for her séances. Because Myra has never received the recognition she feels her gifts merit, they hatch a Plan: They will kidnap the daughter of a local wealthy industrialist, and keep her safe while the media frenzy over her abduction builds. When Myra has a "vision" that leads to the successful recovery of the girl and the ransom, her fame will be assured. As The Plan is put into action, the girl’s presence in the house leads to complex psychological responses from Myra, Bill, and Arthur. The delicate balance of Myra and Bill’s relationship and Myra’s sanity itself begins to fray, as long-buried secrets are revealed. The Plan goes badly awry, and in Myra’s final séance, the drama comes to a devastating conclusion.

Flute I (piccolo) / Flute II (piccolo/alto flute)/ Oboe I / Oboe II (English horn) / Clarinet I / Clarinet II / Clarinet III (bass clarinet/baritone saxophone) / Bassoon I / Bassoon II (contra-bassoon)
Percussion I / Percussion II / Percussion III*
Harp I / Harp II / Keyboard (piano/celesta/synth glass harmonica)**
Guitar (acoustic and electric with E-bow)
Trumpet I / Trumpet II / French horn I / French horn II / Trombone I / Trombone II (Bass) / Trombone III
12 violins (6 first, 6 second) / 4 violas / 4 celli /3 basses

* If possible, it would be preferable to have a fourth percussionist who plays only timpani
** If one of the percussionists can play glass harmonica, that can substitute for the synth keyboard sound


Back to top


gloverSTEPHEN SCHWARTZ (composer/librettist)
Stephen Schwartz was born in New York City on March 6, 1948. He studied piano and composition at the Juilliard School of Music while in high school and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 1968 with a B.F.A. in Drama. His first major credit was the title song for the play Butterflies are Free; the song was eventually used in the movie version as well. In 1971, he wrote the music and new lyrics for Godspell, for which he won several awards including two Grammys. This was followed by the English texts, in collaboration with Leonard Bernstein, for Bernstein's Mass, which opened the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The following year, he wrote the music and lyrics for Pippin and two years later, The Magic Show. At one point, Godspell, Pippin, and The Magic Show were all running on Broadway simultaneously. Other works as a composer and/or librettist include The Baker's Wife, followed by a musical version of Studs Terkel's Working, Captain Louie, Personals, Rags, Children of Eden. Film works include the Disney animated features Pocahontas, for which he received two Academy Awards and another Grammy, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He also provided songs for DreamWorks' first animated feature, The Prince of Egypt, for which he won another Academy Award for the song "When You Believe". Mr. Schwartz's most recent musical, Wicked, opened in the fall of 2003 and is currently running on Broadway. For more information, visit

Back to top



Back to top


Back to top



Back to top


November 21 & 22, 2008
Piano/Vocal Workshop of opera

Angel Orensanz Center & South Oxford Space
PERFORMANCES BY: Lauren Flanigan, Michael Zegarski, Hila Plitmann, Caroline Worra, Jessica Miller, Ory Brown, Daniel Hoy, Madeline Marquis, John Kimberling, Garrett McClenahan, Michael Marcotte, Thomas Wazelle, Drew Santini, Matthew Curran, and Maeve Hoglund.
PIANO: Charity Wicks and Chris Cooley

January 18 & 19, 2008
Piano/Vocal Workshop of ACT I
South Oxford Space & Daniel and Joanna S. Rose Rehearsal Studio
PERFORMANCES BY: Joshua Bouchard, Ory Brown, Grant Clarke, Lauren Flanigan, Daniel Hoy, Michael Wade Lee, Garrett McClenahan, Katie Micha, Jessica Miller, Daniel Neer, Lucas Richter, Jeffrey Tucker, Amy Van Roekel, Caroline Worra, and Michael Zegarski.
PIANO: Charity Wicks


April 19- May 1, 2011 - NY Premiere
New York City Opera
David H. Koch Theater, New York, NY

September 26, 2009 - World Premiere
Granada Theater - Opera Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA
DIRECTOR: Scott Schwartz
CONDUCTOR: Valéry Ryvkin
PERFORMANCES BY: Lauren Flanigan, Kim Josephson, Hila Plitmann, John Kimberling, Craig Hart, Caroline Worra, and Michael Marcotte.
Commissioned by Opera Santa Barbara

Back to top


American Opera Projects, Inc. • 138 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217
718.398.4024 •