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Music Text

Libretto by the composer after the play by Paul Goodman (E)


colS,S,M,A,2T,2Bar,3B (sharing 19 roles); chorus

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.



Jonah Buffo Bass
His Wife, Hephizabah Contralto or Mezzo Soprano
An Angel/The Captain of the Glory of Tammuz Baritone
First Idolatress / First Lady Coloratura Soprano
Second Idolatress / Second Lady Soprano
Third Idolatress / Third Lady Mezzo Soprano
First Sailor / A Duke Tenor
Second Sailor / An Urban Guide Baritone
Third Sailor / A Peasant Bass
A Meditative Man / An Astrologer Bass
The King Bass
A Child's Voice chorus soprano
A Seasick Passenger chorus tenor
A Siren chorus mezzo soprano
A Messenger chorus baritone
Two Spies speaking parts
Sailors, Ninevites chorus
Time and Place

Biblical, Nineveh


The prophet Jonah is visited by an angel. He is commanded to go to Nineveh and proclaim that the city shall be destroyed in 40 days. Jonah disobeys and decides to sail to Tarshish. When his ship begins to sink, Jonah realizes that he is the cause of trouble and begs to be thrown overboard. He is quickly swallowed by a Leviathan. After awakening in the belly of the whale, the angel appears and again commands him to go to Nineveh. Jonah relents and delivers the message. He convinces the king that the city will be destroyed, and the people repent. After 40 days have passed and nothing has happened, Jonah, who has built a small booth just outside the city, is visited by the people. Jonah is annoyed that God sent him on this mission and then spared the people of Nineveh. The angel then appears and destroys Jonah's watermelon. An ensuing storm knocks the angry Jonah to the ground. The angel asks why Jonah is concerned about a watermelon, yet begrudges the salvation of the seven million inhabitants of Nineveh?



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