Clare Coss


Listen to Emmett Till

Listen to Scene 4

Patrych Sound Studios

The Emmett Till opera is a sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt organization that receives individual donations and grant funds for Watkins and Coss's Emmett Till opera.

For more information and to donate contact Clare

Carol Jenkins, Emmy Award-winning journalist and host of Black America on CUNY TV, commented:

ďA very moving afternoon, the first sing-through of the opera Emmett Till. A beautiful, powerful telling of the murder of 14 year-old Till for allegedly flirting with a white woman in Mississippi, 1955. Predicting big things for this production, written and performed exquisitely."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to Emmett Till

Listen to Scene 3

Patrych Sound Studios

 

Emmet Till, The Opera

Emmett Till Opera, Act I, Scene 3 libretto

"Mamie Till Gives Permission"

Bo (Emmett's nickname) pleads with his reluctant mother to let him go to Mississippi for two weeks vacation in August.

Cast:  Emmett Till - Tenor Robert Mack
          Mamie Till - Mezzo-Soprano Nicole Mitchell
          Uncle Mose - Baritone Kenneth Overton
          Pianist - Jennifer Peterson

Act I  Scene 3

(BO continues to put on the pressure on his mother to be allowed to travel South.)

EMMETT TILL:

MAMA, PLEASE, PLEASE. PLEASE.

WHEN YOU ARE AT WORK,

I DON’T INVITE FRIENDS UP TO MESS AROUND -

WATCH TV –

MAMIE TILL:

BO, I WANT YOU WITH ME.

EMMETT TILL:

IT’S NOT FAIR!  IT’S NOT FAIR!

MAMIE TILL:

WATCH YOUR MOUTH, YOUNG MAN.

MY RULES ARE TO KEEP YOU OUT OF TROUBLE.

I WORRY ABOUT YOU NIGHT AND DAY, BO.

EMMETT TILL:

I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF.

I’LL BE A MOTOR POLICEMAN ONE DAY –

TAKE CARE OF YOU AND GRANDMA, TOO.

MAMIE TILL

STOP PESTERIN’ ME.  WAIT ‘TIL YOU’RE SIXTEEN!

EMMETT TILL:

UNCLE MOSE COULD TAKE ME DOWN SOUTH WITH HIM.

IT’S PERFECT RIGHT NOW, MAMA, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE.

A brief interlude

MAMIE TILL:

ALL RIGHT, BO, ALL RIGHT.

YOU WORE ME DOWN.

YOU MAY GO. 

EMMETT TILL:

THANK YOU, MAMA. THANK YOU, MAMA.

MAMIE TILL:

(SHE turns to UNCLE MOSE who has entered the scene.)

UNCLE MOSE, DO NOT ALLOW BO AROUND WHITE FOLKS

WITHOUT YOU AT HIS SIDE.

UNCLE MOSE:

NO NEED TO FUSS.

I’LL WATCH OVER HIM.

(To EMMETT)

Four rivers and six lakes round by us.

MAMIE TILL:

EMMETT, LISTEN CLOSELY TO ME

EVERYTHING IS SEPARATE IN THE JIM CROW SOUTH:

DRINKING FOUNTAINS, RESTROOMS, RESTAURANTS, EVERYWHERE.

EMMETT TILL:

THAT IS THE SILLIEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD!

MAMIE TILL:

REMEMBER, WHEN A WHITE PERSON SPEAKS TO YOU, "YES SIR.  NO SIR. YES MA’AM.  NO MA’AM."

EMMETT TILL:

Yass’uh.  Yass’um.

MAMIE TILL:

 I’M NOT PLAYING, BO! 

EMMETT TILL:

I GET IT, MAMA.  LEAVE ME ALONE.

 MAMIE TILL:

DON’T YOU DARE COME UP IN MY FACE!

THE DELTA IS NOT CHICAGO!

PROMISE TO WATCH YOUR STEP

OR I’LL CHANGE MY MIND AND KEEP YOU HERE.

EMMETT TILL:

I PROMISE, MAMA.  I PROMISE.

 LOOK!  NO MORE TYING STRING AROUND DADDY’S RING.

IT’S A PERFECT FIT NOW!

UNCLE MOSE

Come on, now!  All aboard!  All aboard for Money, Mississippi.

MAMIE TILL:

Bo, you didn’t kiss me goodbye.

How do we know I’ll ever see you again?

EMMETT TILL:  (Runs back into her arms)  
Oh, mama. 

MAMIE TILL: (SHE waves
BYE, BO. BYE-BYE. BYE, BO.

 End Scene 3

Emmett Till Opera, Act I, Scene 4 libretto

"Mamie Till Regrets her Decision.
Teach Roanne Taylor questions God."

Cast:  Emmett Till - Tenor Robert Mack
Mamie Till - Mezzo-Soprano Nicole Mitchell
Teacher Roanne Taylor - Kathryn Guthrie
Pianist - Jennifer Peterson

Act I  Scene 4

(Mamie Till appeals to God for help and understanding.  Roanne Taylor angrily confronts and questions God.  At home alone in their separate kitchens, there is an underlying sense of dread.)

MAMIE TILL:

LORD, WATCH OVER MY BOY. 

ROANNE TAYLOR:

GOD, YOU WANT TO KNOW WHERE YOU WENT WRONG?

MAMIE TILL:

HE IS A GOOD BOY.

 ROANNE TAYLOR:

YOU PUT EVIL IN US JUST BECAUSE YOU GOT MAD ABOUT AN APPLE.

MAMIE TILL:

PLEASE KEEP AN EYE ON MY BOY.

ROANNE TAYLOR:

WHY DOES KNOWLEDGE MEAN GOOD AND EVIL?  

MAMIE TILL:

LORD, KEEP AN EYE ON MY BOY.  MY BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL BOY. 

ROANNE TAYLOR:

I NEVER UNDERSTOOD
THOUGH MY PREACHER DADDY TRIED TO EXPLAIN IT.

MAMIE TILL:

MY LEGS FEEL WEAK.  THEY WON’T HOLD ME UP. 
I CAN’T STAND ON MY OWN TWO FEET. 
WHAT HAVE I DONE?  EMMETT, COME BACK. 
COME BACK TO ME.  COME BACK.

LORD, DID YOU STOP MY LEGS TO SHOW
I WAS WRONG TO LET HIM GO DOWN THERE.

 LORD, PLEASE FAVOR MY LEGS.
I’LL TAKE THE NEXT TRAIN DOWN
BRING HIM BACK TO OUR HOME
I WAS WRONG TO LET HIM GO DOWN.

WHAT HAVE I DONE?  EMMETT, COME BACK.
COME BACK TO ME.   COME BACK.

 End Scene 4