Creating the White Cat: Interview with librettist Larry Rosenwald

Les Délices’ Artistic Director Debra Nagy commissioned Larry Rosenwald to write the libretto for The White Cat. Having decided early on that everyone – from age 5 to 95 – should understand everything that was going on without supertitles or translations, Nagy knew that meant commissioning poetry in English to be set to 18th century music. She couldn’t think of anyone better than Larry to do this!

Renowned for poetic translations that have been used in over 40 theatrical and operatic productions, Rosenwald wrote bespoke verses that propel the story of the White Cat to be set to tunes selected by Nagy. We spoke to Larry about his work and what he’s most looking forward to in the upcoming production.

What are you most looking forward to about this production? 

a) The puppets, because they’re pure magic;  b) the way in which the singers will animate, project, bring to life the words I’ve written for them.

What is or was the most interesting or challenging part or element in your work for this project?

I love working within constraints, and so the most interesting aspect of the work was also the most challenging, namely, finding English words to match both French words and French music, given the distance between languages and cultural styles.

As a Pastiche entertainment, Into the Labyrinth and the White Cat will take inspiration from various 17th and 18th century original sources. What styles or sources have most inspired you in the work that you will bring to the production?

17th-century and 18th-century librettists are under-appreciated artists, and whenever I study their work I’m inspired by it and seek to emulate it.

In your view, what makes this show unique?

Not so much any one thing as the combination of diverse things:  an affirming and heartwarming story, puppets, high-style music, popular music, pathos, humor, dance – the show is so capacious.

What do you think general/adult audiences should or will appreciate in this show?

That magic is possible.

What do you hope kids will take away or most enjoy?

That magic is possible.