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The Haberdasher Prince

Music by: Rosabella Gregory

Libretto by: Dina Gregory

Duration: 55 mins

Originally Commissioned and premiered by Lyric Opera of Kansas City, 2024


In a far-off land, a very musical king has a not-very-musical son. Everyone pretends to enjoy the prince’s terrible concerts, but a bold village girl refuses to play along. The king demands she be punished, but the prince shows mercy. Happily, the prince and the peasant girl devise an arrangement showcasing their true talents.



1 Soprano

1 Mezzo Soprano

1 Tenor

1 Bass-Baritone


Piano (doubling on Celesta)




Percussion (1 player)


Project Statement

Few of us make it through childhood without, at some point, feeling pressured to do

something we’re not very good at. Whether it’s learning a new subject, playing a sport,

or simply sitting still, we all have our strengths and weaknesses, our passions and

antipathies. In the case of Prince Panderbash, it is music for which he finds he has no

skill, this, despite his father’s virtuosic ability with a rare and difficult instrument: the

silver-stringed Gilrabi. No matter how many hours he practices, the prince cannot

master the elusive instrument. So when he is forced to go on a royal tour, performing

concerts around the kingdom, he is not happy. Nor are his audiences! But no one dares

to say that the music is bad, for fear of criticizing a royal and incurring the wrath of the

King. Making the best of his predicament, the young prince entertains himself with one

of the few things that he can control: his attire. Each concert sees him in a newly

handsewn creation. (Indeed, soon, his clothes become the main attraction.) Then one

day everything changes when a young girl cries out: “But the prince plays horribly!”

This original fairytale has echoes of Hans Christian Anderson’s famous story, “The

Emperor’s New Clothes.” But in that classic tale, we do not get to know the small child

who calls out the naked emperor. Here, we not only meet the village girl before the day

of the concert, but we also watch her transformation. For–in this operatic adaptation–it

is through her actions that the prince finally confronts his father with the truth, liberating

himself from the burden of his deception while allowing her to gain the recognition she

deserves as a true master of the Gilrabi. In the final aria of this opera, it becomes clear

that the finely dressed narrator is in fact the village girl; she is telling her own story.

Hopefully educators can use this opera as a springboard to discuss many important

themes, such as the importance of honesty, the difficulty of speaking up, knowing who

you are (and are not), having boundaries, adapting to difficult situations, and





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