Columbia Library columns (v.23(1973Nov-1974May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.23,no.1(1973:Nov): Page 3  



The Perils of Baby Doe


"^HOSE who have seen Douglas Moore's opera The Ballad
of Baby-Doe—mid few devotees of American opera have
not—will quickly recall the old turn-of-the-century prints
that are projected onto a screen for entre-scene atmosphere. If
these scenes, which have become traditional in Baby Doe produc¬
tions across the country, bring to mind an old wild west melo¬
drama, consider the reference appropriate: the history of this
opera is a lively and sometimes perilous one.

The story of Baby Doe first came to Douglas Moore's attention
in 1935, during tlie ninth year of his long association with the
Department of Music at Columbia University. On March 8 of
that year he read in the New York Times an article, "Widow of
Tabor freezes in shack; famed belle dies at 73 alone and penniless,
guarding old Leadvillc bonanza mine." The article recounted the
glamorous, tragic tale of Baby Doe Tabor, whose marriage to
Horace Tabor, the Colorado silver baron, had delighted and scan¬
dalized the nation. A photograph appeared with the article show¬
ing "Elizabeth (Baby Doe Taylor) at the height of her famed
beauty and social career." (Interestingly, this account parallels the
scenario of the opera that was ultimately written. The headline,
in fact, forms the basis for the opera's concluding scene.)

The inherent poignancy of the story greatly appealed to Moore
who immediately sensed its appropriateness as an operatic subject.
  v.23,no.1(1973:Nov): Page 3