Music: An American Momma

Behind the open-air theater, fireworks prick the sky with pinpoints of light. Onstage a red-coated marching band, followed by men in stovepipe hats and women lofting VOTE signs, winds through a procession of patriotic floats. A Model T Ford chugs in from the wings. Behind the wheel sits a stout woman wearing a stern expression and a name sash that reads GERTRUDE S. Her passenger, sprightly in gray morning stripes, is Virgil T. Neither seems especially surprised when an angel on roller skates whizzes past.

On Skates. The Mother of Us All is an opera, a piece of Americana composed by Virgil...

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