From the recording Prelude & Song: "I Shoulda Been A Revenoor"
Luke & Sarah is an American opera in two acts composed in 1996. The musical score is strongly imbued with the rich tradition of American folk music. A variety of musical styles are brought into play. Instrumental colors also play an important role in painting a picture of life in the backwoods, using the music of the banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin in their characteristic modes. Square dances, country songs, Irish fiddle tunes and dances as well as sacred harp choral music serve as the melodic source material taken from Appalachian and Smoky Mountain regions. Each lends expression to the story’s pioneering spirit.
The original libretto by Dr. James R. Murphy consisted essentially of a frontier version of Romeo and Juliet set against a background of agrarian-industrial conflict between mountain folk and invading railroads. Considering the plot too spare and the parallels between Shakespeare and the opera too obvious, Domine suggested the addition of Miss Dixie to the story, lending the appeal of a bad-girl Carmen-type character to the otherwise pale story. Thus enriched, the story is infinitely more engaging. Other interpolations and changes have been made to the libretto to remedy the coarse and needless profanity in the original version. The opera is presented in its current form as a work in progress.
It is 1890s America and the railroads are penetrating the heart of the Mountains. The gandy dancers and the accompanying timber men and coal miners are “bringing civilization” to the domain of the mountain people. The province of the mountaineers is not a tranquil one. The territorial feud between Pa McBeam and Pa McDaniels over the location of a still has been going on for years and recently has been escalating in intensity and violence. In Ah shoulda ben a revenoor Pa McBeam sings of his hatred of the McDaniels clan as he destroys their still with rifle shots.
This archival recording of Prelude and Song: Ah shoulda ben a revenoor from Act I of Luke & Sarah features James Domine conducting the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra. In the opera this song is sung by Pa McBeam.