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The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

opera in two scenes

Music by Lukas Foss
Libretto by Jean Karsavina
after the story The Celebrated Jumpipng Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain
About The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

Foss' best known opera is this short piece based on Mark Twain's story.

Cast of Characters
Smiley, t Stranger, b
Lulu, ms Uncle Henry, bar
First Crapshooter, t Second Crapshooter, b
Guitar Player, bar
Optional chorus

In Uncle Henry's Bar in Calaveras, Smiley is bragging about what a great jumper his frog, Dan'l Webster, is. Uncle Henry and Lulu, his niece, are singing the praises of the frog and its teacher, Smiley. A stranger enters, and says he doesn't think Smiley's frog is any different than any other to prove it, he bets forty dollars that another frog will outjump Dan'l Webster. Left alone with the champion frog, the stranger feeds it some buckshot from Uncle Henry's shotgun, revealing as he does so that he travels from town to town cheating the men and loving the women. He leaves for Lulu's; she has promised to cook him dinner.

Later, in the village square, all the townsfolk are amazed at the stranger's ignorance, betting against Dan'l Webster. The stranger enters with Lulu and tells her goodbye, then offers to match anyone else in town's wagers. The natives are stunned when Dan'l is unable to make even a small jump. The stranger has just left, among the lamentations of the spectators, when Dan'l begins to vomit buckshot. The stranger is dragged back, relieved of his winnings, and chased out of towns as all join in praising Dan'l Webster--still the champion jumper of Calaveras County.

Performance History
World premiere
Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
May 18, 1950
Discography Search for recordings of The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County at Amazon.com

Lukas Foss: "That was a mighty good dinner" from The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County


The Art of the American Singer

CD / Newport 85636 (1998)

Lukas Foss

The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

Manhattan Chamber Orchestra/Clark

CD / Newport 85609 (1997)

Lulu's Song from The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County


Lukas Foss

Lulu's Song, Etc.

CD / Koch 7209 (1996)

Last update: January 1, 2009