‘Sunday in the Square‘ does not open Act I of The Mapmaker’s Opera. How the show opens needs to remain a guarded secret for now as it is, as far as we know, unique to any Broadway-style musical.
The song is actually Cue 3 in the music sequence of numbers. The song opens as our young protagonist, Diego Clemente, arrives in Mérida on a hot Sunday afternoon. He arrives just before the Sunday afternoon paseo (pretty much like the Italian ‘La passeggiata’ but more formal in 1910 Mexico) wherein the young men walk in circles in one direction around the main city square and the young women circle in the opposite direction. The husbands, wives and all other interested parties observe from the sides (presumably in the shade) with subdued and pointed commentary as to both male and female partnering prospects for their respective children. It’s a gorgeous set up for an opening tune (used to great effect in the wonderful musical – The Light in the Piazza – by Adam Guettel).
Essentially, we turn the concept of the ‘I Want Song’ on its head by making this entire extended scene a group ‘I Want Song’ thus providing us with the dramatic seed for the love story between young Sofia Duarte and the newly arrived Spanish illustrator of birds (Diego).
In this song; which is also a tip-of-the-hat to some of the great American Musicals of days gone by (Kismet and Brigadoon come to mind) young Diego inadvertently trips over fruit-sellers in the square, walks in the wrong circle, and generally finds himself caught up in a situation in which his lack of understanding of the rules of social decorum let him down badly. It is a lighthearted number that provides multiple opportunities to introduce several of the leading characters in the show within a 6’30” sequence of the Act I exposition.
The song again features Maddie Featherby and Sam Rabbone as Sofia and Diego, both of whom have been heard in previous songs released on this website. It also includes some great company singing from friends and colleagues playing the roles of wives, husbands and hacendados, commenting metaphorically from the side, and with much elan. Certainly we laughed a lot when recording this in the studio!
The next song for release, the heartbreaking ‘There’s No Need To Say Goodbye’ will be posted on Jan. 6. Don’t listen to it without Kleenex or a handkerchief handy!
On a humorous note, I finish this post with a very funny illustration I recently found in a general college text on the history of Mexico that included brief section on Aztec Music. It’s priceless. There are days where I really appreciate how these poor musicians felt!Take care and enjoy,