Scope and arrangement
The Rhoda Levine Papers document the career of the opera director, mainly through files on the many stage and opera productions on which she worked as dancer, choreographer or director. The papers contain correspondence, annotated scores and libretti; costume, stage and set designs; choreographic, rehearsal and performance notes; programs; clippings; photographs; and audio/visual recordings. The productions documented include traditional works such as The Barber of Seville, Falstaff, The Marriage of Figaro, Rigoletto, Susannah, Orfeo ed Euridice, Porgy and Bess and La Tragedia de Carmen; lesser performed pieces such as Lizzie Borden, A Death in the Family, La Fille de Madame Angot, Lucia di Lammermoor and Lulu; the world premiere of Anthony Davis's X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X; and the American premiere of Janácek's From the House of the Dead. The papers also reveal her work as an educator, particularly her career at the Curtis Institute of Music, the Manhattan School of Music and Northwestern University, and in her participation in many panels and symposia on teaching singers how to act. Among Levine's correspondence is a reproduction of a 1957 letter from J.D. Salinger to the composer William Mayer regarding a proposed operatic adaptation of The Catcher in the Rye.
The collection's video content includes the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival's production of L'Histoire du Soldat (1987); Lizzie Borden (producer and date unknown); Glimmerglass Opera's productions of Of Mice And Men (1987) and Rigoletto (1999); and Maryland Opera Studio's production of La Tragedie de Carmen (1991). Audio content includes an open-reel tape of a performance of Stanley Hollingsworth's The Mother (at Spoleto USA, 1979); a cassette of a performance of Kurt Weill's Mahoganny Songspiel and Happy End Songspiel (Curtis Institute, 1992); and an open-reel tape of Jacques Brel's Voyage to the Moon, possibly recorded at La Monnaie in 1971.
Inquiries regarding audio/visual materials in the collection may be directed to the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound (firstname.lastname@example.org). Audio/visual materials will be subject to preservation evaluation and migration prior to access.
The Rhoda Levine papers are arranged in two series:
This series contains documentation of the operas, operettas, musicals, award ceremonies and other theatrical or television productions on which Levine has worked in some capacity; they also document her work as an educator. The earliest titles featured Levine as dancer or choreographer; later productions usually credit her as director. The files are split into two sub-series: Series I.A is arranged by project title, and Series I.B by producers or educational institutions with whom Levine has or had working relationships. Levine directed many of these titles more than once; if so, they are sub-arranged by producer. All titles include creators, if known. If Levine worked on a title only once, the producer (if known) is listed in a note. Producers with whom Levine worked most often include De Nederlandse Operastichting, La Monnaie (National Opera of Belgium), Glimmerglass Opera Theater, the New York City Opera and the San Francisco Opera. Certain titles, such as Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio, Leoncavallo's Il Pagliacci and Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana, appear only in Series I.B under the producing company or institution.
The files in both sub-series include correspondence with presenters and other creators; annotated scores and libretti; costume, stage and set designs; notes taken during creative meetings, rehearsals and performances; rehearsal schedules; programs; clippings; and photographs. The scores and libretti are all published and contain Levine's notes, edits, stage directions and staging sketches. Some costume, stage and set designs may have been created by Levine, but with few exceptions their authorship is unknown. Some files contain rough photographs used for production purposes only; publicity photos are present as well in some cases.
Series II also contains clippings, programs and photographs, some of which may duplicate content found in this Series.
Levine's general files consist of correspondence, clippings, programs, photographs and resumes. They also contain files on Bard College, her books for children, and her teaching and other public speaking activities.
The correspondence is with friends, producers and presenters, lawyers and managers, universities and conservatories, and composers and librettists. Producers and presenters include the National Institute for Music Theater (which gave her its 10th annual National Musical Theater Award in 1987) and the Scottish Opera. Opera composers/librettists include Eric Stokes, William Mayer and Anthony Davis. Attached to a note from Mayer is a reproduction of a 1957 letter to Mayer from J.D. Salinger stating why The Catcher In The Rye would not make a good opera, and that his short story The Laughing Man could be an effective ballet; Mayer's note to Levine puts the Salinger letter in context. Corresponding managers include Sheldon Soffer and Columbia Artists Management, Inc.
The clippings, all reproductions, date from 1960-1969, documenting the start of Levine's career as a dancer-choreographer and her transition into opera direction. Many files in Series I also contain clippings. The programs are from all stages of Levine's career, and may in some cases duplicate programs in Series I. The photographs are a combination of original prints and photocopy reproductions, and consist of publicity photos of Levine, pictures of her at work, and unidentified opera production shots. Many files in Series I also contain photographs. The resumes date from all stages of Levine's career. Few are dated, but dates can often be estimated by most recent productions listed.
The Bard College file contains writings and correspondence dating from Levine's undergraduate years, and also has correspondence and other material relating to a 1992 class reunion. The file on Levine's books for children contains publicity material from Atheneum Books for Arthur, Quiet Story and Three Ladies Beside The Sea. The workshops, panels and symposia file contains programs and publicity material for various events hosted by, among others, the American Lyric Theater, Wolf Trap, Columbia University, Kent State University, American Opera Workshop, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and the National Opera Institute. For more on Levine's educational activities, see, in Series I.B, the Curtis Institute, Manhattan School of Music and Northwestern University files, and, in this Series, the correspondence with Queens College.