Voice & Piano
December 4, 2008
Robert Frankenberry, tenor / Melissa Fogarty, soprano / David Del Tredici, piano
Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre
Symphony Space
New York, NY

Antler, Marilyn Kalett, Edward Field, Alfred Corn, Rumi, Allen Ginsberg

Song Cycle Gay
#TitleText Author
1Now You KnowAntler
2Die ForelleMarilyn Kalett
3Street Instructions: At the CrotchEdward Field
4Hot to TrotAlfred Corn
5Importance of GourdcraftingRumi
6Please MasterAllen Ginsberg
Buy Score
Boosey & Hawkes

I don't think I'm alone, when I say that sex has long been a part of my life. Coming to sexuality as late as I did (age 22), I can clearly remember the pain of my non-sexual existence. So it is, that at the relatively late age of 65, I choose in this song cycle to celebrate sex — raw, rough, and risquè. These are not songs of love, longing, or languorous lassitude. Such emotions are already well documented in the art-song literature. My Favorite Penis Poems sings of the unspeakable, or at least the heretofore unsung. Central to all the poems is, of course, the rise and fall of His Majesty, the Penis.

Most of the poetry has been written by recognized master-poets, one of whom is "straight" and the others gay. Let me comment briefly on each of the six songs: the final poem, "Please Master," is truly shocking — a detailed reenactment of an S/M scene — and is the cycle's only duet. Two of the preceding poems are funny, bawdy and very gay (70's style) — Edward Field's "Street Instructions: At the Crotch" and Alfred Corn's "Hot to Trot." Appropriately enough, I've subtitled the Corn setting, "Fantasy on theme's of Strauss' [steamy] opera, Der Rosenkavalier." In "The Importance of Gourd-Crafting," the 12th-century mystic poet Rumi has written a Grand Guignol morality tale full of blood, bestiality and penile-fixated women — as only a 12th-century mystic could! Marilyn Kallet's "Die Forelle" takes a contemporary look at the heterosexual-female-voyeur sensibility, though here one might more appropriately speak of her protagonist's "trout fixation." And finally, there is the cycle's opening poem, Antler's "Now You Know" — a whimsical leap into a prenatal, what-if world, where baby boners go "from limp to hard a thousand times" and penises, as well as vaginas, can give birth to "the little baby-to-be-that-is-you."

Prick up your ears, now, as the music swell! Hopefully, this is not poppycock and will not be too hard — on your virgin sensibilities.

– David Del Tredici, October 2002

David Del Tredici offered a song with words, "Now You Know," though they could scarcely by made out in Tom Cipullo's performance in pseudo-operatic style over Mr. Del Tredici's enthusiastic piano-playing. Such anonymity would seem to defeat the purpose of this excerpt from "a pornographic song cycle," in Mr. Del Tredici's words. The text, by a poet names simply Antler, announces the results of "new studies," that "male babies get erections in the womb on the average of five times a day," and lets imagine the roam.


Photo by Kaity Volpe

Recent & Upcoming Performances (3)

Mar 13, 2017 7:00 pm
DDT 80th Birthday Concert
Joe's Pub, Public Theater, NYC

    PROGRAM will include

    Carioca Boy-Tango
    Farewell, R.W. from Facts of Life
    from Miz Inez Sez: Chateauneuf Du Pape
    Dynamic Duo
    from My Favorite Penis Poems: Hot To Trot
    from Gay Life: Here
    Innocence (Intermezzo) from String Quartet No. 1
    from Love Addiction: IIIIII & This Solid Ground

    Performers: Courtenay Budd, Felix Del Tredici, Robert Frankenberry, John Kelly, David Leisner, Eric Moe, Marc Peloquin, Mark Peskanov, Voxare Quartet, Dalit Warshaw

    Aug 3, 2017 6:00 pm
    Crested Butte
    Crested Butte Music Festival, Colorado
    • Eric Moe, piano
    • Robert Frankenberry, tenor

    Sound Hearth: Happy 80th!
    Celebrate the birthdays of newly minted octogenarians and composers that changed the course of musical history – Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and David Del Tredici. These composers were responsible for reviving the tonal tradition in composition after the mid-twentieth century’s fascination with atonality and serialism. In addition to hearing music by each of the composers, you’ll learn a work and perform it as a group!

    Del Tredici works being performed:
    Virtuoso Alice, solo piano


    Now You Know
    Hot to Trot
    Ballad in Yellow
    Acrostic Song (encore)

    Jun 20, 2018 7:00 pm
    Moe and Frankenberry perform works of DDT
    National Sawdust, 80 North 6th St, Brooklyn 11249
    • Robert Frankenberry, vocals
    • Eric Moe, piano

    Robert Frankenberry and Eric Moe perform selections from Gay Life, My Favorite Penis Poems, Three Baritone Songs