A review of "Puritan Days," a.k.a. "Lee-li-Nau," an opera by Earl Marble and Richard Stahl. Folio Magazine, January 1884

The existence of this opera about Merrymount is more interesting than its somewhat alarming excerpts given in Folio. One imagines Gilbert and Sullivan as performed by F Troop (!). However, put this in context as an American response to the height of the G&S craze following H.M.S. Pinafore (1878), which was "received in America with “enthusiasm bordering upon insanity” (Kate Field, Scribner’s Monthly, xviii, 754). Lee-li-Nau was staged the same year as Princess Ida, two years after the Savoy opera house was built expressly for G&S. Small wonder American composers were searching for New World themes to capitalize on "Pinafore-mania." Thomas Morton must have seemed ideal material for 1880s fans of Buffalo Bill's Wild West and of Indian Princesses of the Victorian stage like author and actress Pauline Johnson.

I have searched to no avail for a libretto or sheet music. "Leelinau" itself does not have a citation in online catalogs of the Smithsonian (SIRIS), the Library of Congress American Memory Collection, the Boston Public Library, or the Minuteman Library Network. Harvard HOLLIS does have the libretto for a similar opera that
Richard Stahl published in 1883: The Salem witch : an American comic opera in three acts (also available a the BPL).

"Lee-li-nau" is the name of a new American opera, which is the joint work of Earl Marble as the librettist, and Richard Stahl as the composer of the musical score, and which was mentioned, before its completion, under the title of " Puritan Days." A less stern and severe title was deemed necessary, and so the name of the Indian princess who figures largely in the story was seized upon. It is not strictly a comic opera, its aim being somewhat higher, and its action at times dignified and dramatic, though there is a great deal of fun developed in the action of the story, the plot being hazy and somewhat unsubstantial, the story really being one of sentiment tinged with the romantic features of Puritan and Indian characteristics as discovered by looking back two hundred and fifty years, and scanning life as it then existed in the Plymouth colony. It would be absurd to speak of it in a historical sense, though Miles Standish, Governor Bradford, and Thomas Morton, figure in the story, and on different occasions the exact language that these historical characters used is made available under similar conditions. The scene of the second act is laid at Merrymount (now the residence of Hon. John Quincy Adams), where Morton, referred to in the Plymouth annals as "the Lord of Misrule," held high carnival one luckless Mayday, where he gathered his clans, both whites and Indians, and raised a May-pole, and danced about it till he danced himself into jail, through his arrest by doughty Miles Standish, which furnishes a dramatic ending to the act. The first and third acts are laid in Plymouth, and the opera ends by the sending-back of Morton to England as a prisoner in the Mayflower, which swings away from her moorings as the curtain fails. Of course this is not history, though the Plymouth authorities did what they could to make it such. The dignified sentiment of the opera is furnished by two Pilgrim lovers, idyllic in every respect; and there are other phases of love-making, — between a young Plymouth subject and an Indian princess (baritone and contralto), and between two young people, recent arrivals in the colony, who refuse to work one Christmas Day, and, as a punishment, are forbidden by the Governor to play on that day, he ordering them to " keepe within doors," which incident will be remembered by the careful reader of colonial history. This couple, as well as the idyllic lovers, are tenor and soprano. Thomas Morton is bass ; and another strong bass character is an Indian medicine-man or jossakeed, who is a character in his way. All the " horse-play," which is given place to only in small quantities, falls to the lot of this Indian. The author has endeavored to make an opera of sentiment and humor, with what degree of success of course remains to be seen. There is a chorus of Indian girls, whose business is very original, and whose music is expected to become very popular. Several of the numbers in waltz time are said to be very catchy.

The following is a tenor song sung when an Indian attack is expected :
— The Indian foe is here !
As the twilight settles down,
From the forest deep he will skulk and creep
To destroy the hapless town.
Be firm as the foe comes on,
Defying the savage crew !
With our trust on high, we will live and die
Like men with their God in view.
Strike home when war-whoops roar!
Strike home at the painted foe !
While to God we pray that the coming fray
Will the Pilgrim valor show.
Fur God is our watchword here
In this wilderness alone,
As we work and pray for a fairer day,
With never a sigh or groan.

And the following stanza is from a song by the Indian princess :
Cometh Lee-li-nau, the princess,
Dancing Fawn,
Daughter of a forest chieftain.
Since the dawn
She has journeyed here to Plymouth,
By the sea,
That the pale-face from the far-land
She might see.

"Lee-li-nau" will have its first production at the Baltimore Academy of Music, Nov. 10, by the Wilbur Opera Company, by which it is now in active rehearsal. — Boston Evening Transcript.

[page 156]
FOLIO "PURITAN DAYS." The story of " Puritan Days," the new opera by Earl Marble and Richard Stahl, opens soon after the settlement of Plymouth, and begins with a Puritans' chorus, after which Miles Standish, Governor Bradford and others express their Indignation that a new arrival of y»ung people from England had refused to work on Christmas Day, the Puritans declaring such obstinacy to be no better than popery, and Governor Bradford singing: —

When I was a lad in England old,
I studied over many a way,
In summer heat and winter's cold.
To make my work seem only play.
I looked all over the universe,
And pondered on the things that I saw,
Abd soon concluded that sport was a curse
To be put down by the arm of the Law.
Sport has an animosity
For work, and the velocity
With which it works atrocity
Is such a dreadful thing!
It favors all rascality,
And harbors criminality,
Hence Puritan fatality
Will have no ting-a-ling.

Subsequently two of the young rebels sing a duet as follows : —

The country it is big enough
For freedom all around,
And we have danced the jig enough
To be no longer bound.
Oh, it is very curious
That freedom is a thing
That seems to be so spurious
When some one else is king.
The Pharisee is ever here,
The hypocriti also,
And always will be, never fear,
Oh, never fear, heigh ho

These are second tenor and second soprano characters, the first soprano and tenor being dignified and lovers, of course, while a baritone and contralto (the latter an Indian princess) are lovers, and, with the others, are married by Indian rites in the last act.

Very old prints have been secured by Mr. Marble of the Indian dance in vogue in such cases, known as the Dance of the Uirdí ;irid Blossoms, of which he hopes to have a brilliant finale made when the opera is produced. It may not be out of place to state that Mr. Marble has taken the name of Doty for this baritone from the Edward Doty who came over in the Mayflower, and who scandalized the Plymouth community by marrying an Indian maid, and from whom Mr. Marble claims descent.

A chorus of Indian girls is one of the novelties of the opera, affording color and action in no small degree, giving a distinct flavor to the second act, which occurs at Merry Mount, which was such an eyesore to Plymouth, and where Thomas Morton (basso) and his followers make merry on the succeeding May Day, and get arrested during the festivities by gruff Miles Standish. An Indian Medicine Man, the Indian princess referred to, and Morton and his reckless followers crowd the second act full of fun and melody. Mr. Marble has retained a portion of the words of one of Morton's bacchanalian songs for one of the numbers, and regrets that the crude old melody, that is spoken of but not preserved in the annals of the old colony, cannot be also utilized The last act is devoted almost wholly to sentiment and wholesale matrimony, though fun occasionally manifests itself.

The composer of the music, Richard Stahl, is a young man, but he has written two operas that have had successful runs in Germany, besides many detached works of a less ambitious character that have enjoyed popularity. He is brimming over with talent, and his music is strikingly original. The score of "Puritan Days" exhibits great versatility and discernment. There are several choruses in it of superior merit; an exquisite solo for the soprano; some catchy humorous movements — in fact, all the variety that is essential to a work of this sort. He has exercised admirable discrimination in making the music characteristic of the subject matter, so that it is an American opera in more than one respect. To do justice to Mr. Stahl's production in the limits of a brief newspaper article is quite impossible. We can only say that "Puritan Days" seems to possess all the elements that go to make up a successful comic opera, and Messrs. Marble and Stahl should have no difficulty in finding a manager suitable to present it properly to the public. — The New-York Mirror.

The following is the story of " Lee-li-nau," the new American light opera, written by Earl Marble, and composed by Richard Stahl, which was to have been given in Baltimore early in November, but which, owing to insufficient rehearsals, has been delayed in its presentation, and will have its first production at the People's Theatre in New York, December 1, by the well-known Wilbur Opera Company.

The story opens at Plymouth, one Christmas Day early in the settlement of the Colony, by the refusal of a number of newly arrived immigrants to work on Christmas Day, which aroused ihe ire of Governor Bradford, whose anger was increased when a short time afterward he found the }oung people engaged in play, though their consciences would not permit them to labor. The reader of Colonial history will remember how the Governor met this question, telling them if it was against their conscience to work it way against his conscience that they should play while others worked. Various degrees of rebellion are displayed, and singing and Dancing are indulged in; an Indian medicine man appears, frightening the children ; and after a while a messenger announces the approach of a large body of Indians, when preparations are made to rewst them, which preparations are stopped by the arrival of the Indian princess Lee-li-nau, bearing a flag of truce, and expressing friendship and a desire for acquaintance. John Doty, a young Puritan of independent tendencies, become enamored of her at once.

The second act takes place at Merrymount on the succeeding Mayday. Here have gathered Thomas Morton (termed in Puritan annals "the Lord of Misrule") and his adventurous followers, who proceed to have a rollicking good time, in imitation of the old English custom, though without the restraints of civilization. Here come, by invitation, Lee-li-nau and her troop of Indian girls, and of course young Doty, and on various pretexts the Pilgrim lovers from Plymouth, those who rebelled against labor on the preceding Christmas, and the Indian medicine man, who gets drunk on Morton's whiskey in the most approved fashion, and is reckless alike in the manner in which he creates both fun and consternation. The Maypole meantime hae been erected, and the revels about it are at their height, when Miles Standish enters, and arrests Morton, which closes the act.

The third act occurs at Plymouth early in the June following, on a day set for the return to England of the Mayflower, on which it has been determined to send Morton as a prisoner. He is broken in spirit, talks and sings in a doleful way, and goes aboard the vessel in handcuffs, with a dejected air. Love scenes and songs are seen and heard between the Pilgrim lovers, who have walked through the various scenes in a dignified, stately, conscientious way, and abo between two of the young people numbered among the rebels in the first act, but now become quite docile in the Pilgrim harness. The marriage ceremony, it will be observed, is performed by Governor Bradford, one of the tenets of the early Pilgrims being an aversion to having the marriage rite solemnized by any religious ceremony. Here also come Doty and Lee-li-nau, who are supposed to be married in a mystic fashion by the Indian medicine man.

The action of the opera closes with the dance of the birds and blossoms by the Indian girls, when, as the curtain descends, the Mayflower is seen moving out into the waters of Plymouth Harbor, while the strains of the closing chorus ring out merrily on the sweet June air. Susie Kirwin is expected to make a great hit in the title-role, which affords her one of the finest opportunities she has ever had; and Ed. Chapman, as the Indian medicine man, keeps the company in constant laughter by his funny business at rehearsals.