Libretto (compiled by the composer from the following sources):

Ambrose Bierce:

Vision of Doom (1892),

A Horseman in the Sky (1907)

William Cullen Bryant: The Future Life (1839)

Stephen Crane: War is Kind (1899)

Herman Melville: Apathy and Enthusiasm (1861)

Walt Whitman:

Look Down Fair Moon (1865)

The Mystic Trumpeter (1872)

Reconciliation (1865-66)

All texts are in the public domain.


The Bard, Tenor

The Father, Baritone

Isaiah Robb,Tenor

Margaret Robb, Mezzo Soprano

The Robb Child (non-speaking)

The Captain (speaking role)

Soldier chorus (3 soli - TBB)

Grave diggers (non-speaking)


String Orchestra


SATB Chorus (off stage)

Orchestral Material on Rental

Notes and Synposis

Isaiah Robb is set in mid nineteenth century America; the Civil War era.

The action concerns the life and mortality of a young soldier, Isaiah Robb, who joins a local militia, is killed in battle, and reconciles his death in the afterlife. The overall impression should liken itself to a ‘slide show’ of Matthew Brady photographs. Sepia tone sets, spare lighting, period costumes.

The Bard, in a spotlight downstage left, entreats the moon to light the world and reveal the carnage of the war.

The Father of Isaiah Robb, is seen center stage in an unassuming domestic setting. He is reading a newspaper which features news announcing an impending conflict and in so doing he relates aloud his despair and concern. Isaiah enters interrupting his Father’s musings to inform him that he has enlisted in the local regiment. The Father reluctantly pledging responsibility for his son’s family, gives him leave. Now, with the war brought home, he continues his musings about the transpiring events with a heightened sense of concern and worry for his son.

The Bard is seen again, spotlit downstage center, and describes the horrors of the insurrection.

Isaiah Robb, is seen lying face-up on the ground, now a silent casualty of the war, with two officers standing over him. Assisted by two or three enlistees who dig the grave for Isaiah, the officers are preparing the body for a hasty interment amid the frenzy of the front lines. They attempt to perform some type of ‘liturgy’ for the deceased, although neither is prepared to officiate. Occurring at interludes within the officers dialogue, Margaret, the wife of Isaiah, is receiving news from a honor guard about the death of her husband. She is holding an infant child, and although distraught with grief, she maintains a stoic resolve. Following the dialogue of the officers, she sings a lament, praying that her lover and spouse will remember her when she joins him in the distant future life of eternity.

Isaiah Robb, now seen as a ghost in the afterlife, finds himself alone in a dark and desolate place unknown to him. At first he is exuberant but soon becomes unsettled with the unfamiliar surroundings . As he tries to comprehend, a chorus (offstage) somberly tells him of the world that he has departed, a bitter and desolate place. Isaiah, now with reckoning and reconciliation, covers his face with his hands and weeps for despair. Isaiah, now passing through this dark place and describes a serene, heavenly realm which is laid out before him.

The Bard, spotlit on downstage right, concludes the opera with poignant words of reconciliation.

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