Alice Awakens


Alice Awakens


soprano and orchestra

  •  Alice Awakens was commissioned by the Wintergreen Music Festival, Erin Freeman, Artistic Director, and premiered at the Wintergreen Festival by the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra, Erin Freeman, conductor, Gilda Lyons, soprano soloist, on 31 July 2016.

  • Instrumentation:

  • Duration: 14’

1. Courtroom

2. Alice Front

3. Book Club

4. Jack Front

5. A Company Wife


A concert scena in five movements performed without pause, Alice Awakens is drawn from Lyons’ mainstage opera A New Kind of Fallout, inspired by the life and work of Rachel Carson, commissioned and premiered by Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, with libretto by Tammy Ryan.



1. Courtroom


2. Alice Front

Carson warns of a “Silent Spring.”

Dying in their shells.

My God! What a horrible thing.

This life inside of me is growing.                       

Odd how yesterday I thought like a woman.

Today I think like a mother.

Life. There’s nature stirring inside of me. 

I’m not some silly coed pining for 

the Captain of the Football team,

the Korean War Veteran, 

Creative Writing Major, 

who swept me off my feet. 

I’m not that girl anymore.

You were going to write the 

Great American Novel,

I was going to be your wife.

Stay at home. Raise a family.

Neither of us is who we were then anymore.                                                       

Now I understand that

I’m more than that girl, Jack.                                                      

Today, I hear my own voice.

Our child’s voice.

I’m part of the continuum of life.

I am a force of nature now.


3. Book Club

The poisons they spray don’t just go away.

No. They fall to the earth.

Rain should be sweet, not bitter.

The early morning dew should be a harbinger of life, not death.

Did you read about the robins that died?

Hundreds of them. In Michigan, I think…

Worms drink the dew.

And what does that make what the birds feed their babies?


What’s worse: the next generation never hatches. 

They die in their shells. They never have a chance to sing.

Carson. She calls it “a new kind of Fallout.”

Carson calls it a “silent spring.”

So. I ask you: 

If it’s happening there, isn’t it happening to us?


4. Jack Front


5. A Company Wife

You need me to be a company wife?   

You mean, nod my “pretty little head…”  

You mean, be lovely… at office parties… with the other wives… 

You mean, bake the tuna casserole and serve you a martini? 

Is that what you really want, Jack?  

For me to ignore this wake-up call and smile?

Smile while my husband composes a jingle putting us all to sleep?

I can’t be that woman, Jack.    

You were going to write the Great American Novel.

What happened, Jack?  What happened to you?  

text by Tammy Ryan