Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Stephanie Jensen-Moulton

Committee Members

Jeff Nichols

Joseph N. Straus

Bruce Saylor

Subject Categories

Composition | Music Performance


Opera, Miriam Gideon, Contemporary Opera, Fortunato, Whitney George


Post-tonal American opera composer Miriam Gideon (1906-1996) completed a chamber opera, perhaps intended for television, titled Fortunato, based on a dark comic tragedy set in turn-of-the-20th-century, economically-ravaged Madrid. The expressive staged work follows the life of the unfortunate title character Fortunato in three operatic vignettes, each one becoming more desperate and moribund by the scene. A curious piece in Gideon’s oeuvre, the work remained unfinished, with a piano score for the complete work, but only a sample of her orchestration for Scene 1. This study examines the orchestration of Scene 1 as a template for creating an orchestration similar in style for the subsequent two scenes. After outlining her orchestrational tendencies in her work at large, and within the specific world of Fortunato, I conduct a close analysis of the ways in which she uses timbre and tone color of the individual instruments of the orchestra to inform my own orchestrational decisions for Scenes 2 and 3. Importantly this dissertation contains a substantial appendix with a full score to Gideon’s Fortunato and the accompanying orchestral parts to invite other performances of this work, one that deserves a permanent place in the canon of 21st century, contemporary (and post-tonal) opera.


This essay and the composition, "Princess Maleine," together constitute the author's dissertation but are otherwise unrelated.