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Compositions —

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Asks Alice

1998 • 10–16 minutes • Mezzo-soprano, two sopranos and piano. (Text attributed to Gertrude Stein)


'Asks Alice' is a very short 'micro-opera' in two acts. The text comes from the words last spoken by Gertrude Stein. At the time of her death she turned to her companion of many years, Alice Toklas, and asked 'Alice, what is the answer?" After a pause to this unanswerable question she then asked the even more poignant "In that case, what is the question?" The poignancy of this moment is underlined by the instructions to the performers to repeat the complete opera five to eight times in a row exactly and without a pause in between. Thus, in the tradition of Gertrude Stein's love of repetition, her death scene is played again and again.


The work was commissioned by the NUMUS Concerts through the assistance of an anonymous donor.

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