music samples
Gershwin's Lost Tune
Synopsis for a Chamber Operetta

(A Love Story of the 1930s)


"MUSIC OUT OF NOWHERE" is a nostalgic, intimate operetta written for 3 singer/actors and a pianist. A heartwarming love story taking place mostly in Los Angeles from 1935 to 1939, and revealing how wonderful things can still happen to people, even in the worst of times!

Miles Pearson, a native New Yorker and retired professor of Elizabethan literature, born in 1905, reminisces in 1969 about his first marriage, at the age of 20, and the years during The Great Depression, after he had moved out to California to take on a teaching post at USC.

Sophie, a young Jewish immigrant from Russia, had been the great love of his life. A passionate woman who had fled the pogroms of her native land, she had found America to be the symbol of all her hopes for a better world. Sophie and Miles had been married only one year when she and their unborn child died in in a tragic accident. Though her lines in the show are not many, Miles' memory of her is constant, and her memory hovers over the piece from beginning to end. This tragedy had so affected Miles that, for 13 years after, he was incapable of even contemplating the possibility of another relationship. He buried himself in his books and his teaching.

Diane Walker was a graduate student in music whom he met in 1935 by sheer accident, having gotten lost on his first day on the USC campus. She immediately stirs up memories of his lost love because of her voice and passionate personality. After she graduates, she gets a small part in a Broadway show, and, soon after, she finds herself jettisoned into the world of musical theatre, both on stage and in film, where she is very successful. She, however, does not feel at all fulfilled in this role, for she is a person with a strong sense of social justice. The Great Depression, and also the rise and spread of Fascism across Europe torment her. Diane is extremely sensitive to the suffering she sees around her as well as to the desperate plight of refugees who are being barred entry into the US because of the rigid quota system of that time. She meets a very dynamic man, a film director who recently had escaped from Germany. (She only talks about him. He does not appear on stage.) She is smitten with him for he has ideas about how to revolutionize film, to make this art form into a vehicle for showing the misery and injustice of the world. She throws herself into supporting his projects, not only financially but also romantically. For she couldn't help herself from falling in love with such an innovative giant of the cinema. She eventually finds out, however, that he is really exploiting her naive idealism, and that he is an incurable philanderer.

A series of coincidental encounters with Miles occurs over a period of several years. During this time, Miles is following her career as a movie star, for he goes to see all her movies, and he has her on a pedestal in his imagination. After Diane's devastating disillusionment with the man she had so idealized, Miles and Diane meet again in a most unexpected way. She confides to him her story and he is deeply touched by her sadness and tries to console her, offering her advice which she so desperately needs. Now she becomes aware that this repressed and backward professor is, in fact, a very good man, full of understanding and kindness. He, in turn, realizes that this "angel" whose real name, he learns, is Sophie, and whom he had so idealized is, in fact, a very fallible and vulnerable person who needs his wisdom and care in order to live in this difficult and convoluted world.

Thus, from a logical point of view, these two unhappy people, coming from entirely opposite worlds, were not at all likely to find one another or even find anything in common. It was clearly an improbability. More like something one might have dreamt, but which, nevertheless, turns out to be true!


©2017 Bruce Lloyd Kates