Waiting for Miss Monroe

Introduction to the libretto

Janine Brogts libretto focuses on Marilyn Monroe’s perception of the world around her. It is divided in 3 acts, labeled Workday, Birthday, and Death day. In the first we meet Marilyn during a day at which she calls in sick, with all the ruptures that her absence causes to the studio and those around her. In the second she meets the ghosts of her past, Joe DiMaggio, Clark Gable (who personifies her father), and the Kennedy’s while she’s backstage at Madison Square Garden, where she has to sing Happy Birthday to JFK. In the last act, she meets her younger self, Norma Jeane, on her way to fame and destruction. She tries to give her some good advice, but the girl tells her she’s just a jealous old hag. Once dead, she reflects on what happens with her body and her lagacy in a long, closing monologue.

lotte de beer cornelie tollensIt is a well wrought, modern libretto, that offers numerous opportunities for Robin de Raaff to let his protagonists stand out. First of all Marilyn, but who is almost continuously on stage, but there is also a fine monologue for film studio owner Fox, and there are a number of broadway style ensembles, especially in the second act, where the Kennedy’s are brought in.

As Robin de Raaff attested, no Dutch opera till so far has ever held repertoire, but... one has to be the first. Could it be this one? With production video samples, mp3 samples and an array of production photos, anyone can now judge this interesting opera for him or herself!

All videosamples © 2012 DNO
All soundsamples © 2012 DNO/Robin de Raaff
All production photos © 2012 DNO/Hans van den Bogaard
Libretto quotes © 2012 Janine Brogt
Text © 2012 401DutchOperas.com

We thank Robin de Raaff & De Nederlandse Opera for their cooperation in this presentation.

Plot synopsis

Act 1 - Workday
Scene 1 

A soundstage in Fox Studios in Hollywood. Early morning. The filmcrew is waiting. The star has not arrived. They have nothing to do. Boredom. Sounds. A voice from over the intercom announces that the action is delayed. Fox, owner of the film studios, elgenatly dressed, in his fifties, laments his faith as a man whose job seems to be waiting for Miss Monroe.

‘Three hours ago: make-up call

Two hours ago: wardrobe all set to go
One hour ago: breakfast call
Already overdue mind you
Lunchcall: no doubt to be delayed
Why am I here
Waiting Waiting Waiting
For this... Waiting for my star
Who is chronically late
My Studio, Hollywood, America,
The whole world laughs at me:
‘Executive president for creative operations’
Just a damned fool
Waiting for his star
Contractual obligations?


Paula, a middle-aged stout woman who continuously carries scripts and papers, shares Whitey’s make-up space. She reassures him that she did her best to reassure Marilyn of her abilities as an actress. Whitey stutters that he proposed Marilyn to die her hair in a whiter shade of platinum, in order to give her a softer, mother-like appearance. Fox mocks Paula, who then puts things in persepctive, by telling him that she is Marilyn’s personal coach, and not Fox’s secretary. Whitey is more demure, but proves of equally little help, lamenting the perils of his job, as the one who has to prepare for such things as taping her breasts, and getting het wet for wet scenes, while she hates wet hair, which he understands. Paula tells hims that Marilyn called in sick, her docter just forgot to forward the note. Fox, despairing, suspects a consipracy, which causes Paula to point Fox to bigger trouble, such as the thousands of dollars a day he loses on Richard Burton and Liz Taylor in Rome, where they are shooting Cleopatra:

‘Don’t blame Monroe. She’s a pro
She stays away from her love-interest.’

Just when Fox is about to assault Paula, she says that Marilyn is there! Fox looks at her in disbelief, upon which she exclaims: ‘I mean: she’s on the phone. You can talk to her now’.

Scene 2

In the dark the giggling voices of two women are heard, then the click-click of a photocamera. Light. A sunny garden in broad daylight. Marilyn, 35 years old, glamorous and beautiful, posing for Eve, professional photographer, visibly pregnant. The atmosphere between the women is both friendly and professional. When Eve asks a slightly fatigued Marilyn what she would like to be, she replies ‘The Venus of Botticelli’. Then she touches Eve’s pregnant belly, and puts her ear on it, in order to listen:

‘I hear a tiny gurgle
And again
Bubble bubble bubble’

Marilyn is suddenly in tears. Eve goes to the champagne cooler nearby, fills two glasses, while trying to reassure Marilyn by telling her that she is her favorite model. Marilyn replies that this will be her last job, from now on she’s going to become a mother. She turns away from Eve, and starts speaking into her private tape recorder:

I’ve never felt it
Nobody ever let me –
I felt the most wonderful
Wonderful –
I felt the baby move
It touched my hand like a feather –
I know
I know as if it just told me
No baby would wish to remain in my womb
All the babies know they shouldn’t go there
I understand
How could I be anyone’s mother
When I’ve never been someone’s child?
(addressing Eve again)
Well, no goddess
Would slave away her days
Before a camera she fears and hates’

Eve tries to reassure her again, but Marilyn explains her that whereas the still camera is her best friend, the movie camera is a monster:

‘It wants to eat me alive
To skin me, chew me
And then spit me out
It terrifies me
It’s out for my blood’

Again Eve tries to calm her down, whihc makes Marilyn recall her old affection for foto novels. Eve pours more champagne, proposing a toast. Marilyn toasts to her baby, Eve to their joint photographs and lovers. That brings Marilyn to recall that her true ‘lover’ is her public.

She continues to speak into the tape recorder, lamenting the stupidity of her doctor and of the people surrounding her, who are only interested in one quality of her: ‘Tits ’n ass’. She continues to explain to Eve, with a shade of pride, that she invented this procedure of speaking into the tape recorder herself. Since she didn’t like talking to him directly, she gives him the tapes and sits in, since all she wants is really to talk to herself, which means that someone will listen in, who at least takes her serious. She continues to speak into the tape recorder, recalling a dream she had the other night, while being awake.

‘I saw this skeleton of a building
Just black holes for eyes
And a river made of pepsi cola
A park
Thank god for the park
And the thundering rumbling
Of things unknown
The piercing of screams
And the whispers
The cries of things dim
And too young to be known yet
The sobs –
It was my fault that daddy died
Did you know he was my father, Doc?


But I know it was me, me
I killed my daddy
Because I kept him waiting
Waiting, waiting
Because I couldn’t –
And he got bored
And I just couldn’t
Do what I –

She swallows some pills and exclaims to Eve that she feels wonderful now. Eve suggests she reads her book, which turns out to be a novel by James Joyce. The phone rings, its for Miss Monroe. She sends the waiter with the phone off, saying she’s not available, and gets annoyed when he reappears while she’s rading a passage from the Joyce book for Eve, while posing for her in bathing suit, as requested. Its a passage where man are scolded for their typical male behavior, whereas they would be nothing without woman and so on. Finally, she gives in to the nearly begging waiter and gets a screaming Fox on the other line. Amidst her excuses, she stops dead when Fox informs her that a stand-in is called in to take her place. Marilyn immediately leaves.

Scene 3

The scene changes back to Fox in the studio, where the whole crew is still waiting. A Marilyn look-alike is being prepared for the shot. Fox is still on the phone with Marilyn, explaining her that he has no choice.

Suddenly, Marilyn is on the scene. Paula and Whitey at her side. She wears the same dress as the stand-in, still being zipped up by Paula and powderbrushed by Whitey. The crew is electrified; the change in atmosphere alerts Fox and he sees Marilyn. She throws a withering look to the stand-in, who tries to make herself invisible. Fox bows silently and sends the stand-in on her way. Marilyn stays motionless till the stand-in has disappeared. But when she starts moving, she suddenly hesitates and falters; a gasp goes through the crew. Marilyn pauses and asks for Paula, who hands her some pills. Whitey pours a glass of champagne, Marilyn washes away the pills. Marilyn, into the recorder:

‘Why is it I have a feeling
Things are not really happening
But I’m playing a part
For which I feel guilty
And ashamed
Guilt and shame
My silent sisters
I must, must determine
Not to be overwhelmed
Not to be overwhelmed
But how
When everything is so overwhelming
So overwhelming’ 

Paula tries to reassure her that she can play this woman to perfection, while Fox goes over the scene with her, where Ellen Arden comes back to the home, walking through the garden, to the edge of the pool, where the children are. She hasn’t seen them in five years, and they don’t know her. Says Fox: ‘Just look at them, love them, love the children’. Marilyn sighs, Fox asks for the children, then Paula informs him they had to leave, because their studio time was up. Fox curses, summons someone to get the damned kids back and asks for the dog to be brought in in the meantime. When Marilyn protests that she isn’t prepared for the dog scene, Paula reassures her that its just the same. Instead of loving the children, she now just has to love the dog, which is in fact more easy, since the dog already knows her, whereas the children don’t: hug the dog!


Trainer and dog arrive. Marilyn kneels down on the indicated spot, but the dog runs away to the trainer, causing Marilyn to burst into laughing. After some attempts the dog starts to lick her. She laughs again, tries to protect her hair. Whitey runs to Marilyn to touch up her hair and make-up. After some stressed behavior by Fox the scene is wrapped up, and the children are brought in. Marilyn smiles at the shy children. She laughs and plays with them, but Fox urges them into serious action. They film some takes, Marilyn reassures herself that she can do it:

‘Remember you’re on top of the world
Even if it doesn’t feel like it

Remember, there’s nothing you lack
Nothing to be selfconscious about
Remember, you sought this work
It didn’t seek you
Love the children
Oh, nothing’s easier
Love the children
I know I can do that
Nothing should be easier
Shouldn’t it?
(looks at the children in the pool with misty eyes and eventually in a husky voice asks)

You don’t remember me, do you?
Would you like me to stay?
If you want me to stay
I could find a place to sleep
We could work something out
If you would want me to
I would love to stay’

At the end, even Fox agrees that it was brilliant, exclaiming that even he had to wait one more week for it, it would have been worth it! Then Whitey reminds Marilyn that they have a plane to catch. Fox protests, but Paula explains that even more important matters awaiting Marilyn in New York: Preisdent John F. Kennedy’s birthday.

Act 2 – Birthday

Scene 1

A dressing room backstage in Madison Square Garden on the evening of President Kennedy’s Birthday Salute. Marilyn in a bathrobe, slouched in the chair; Whitey tries to do her make-up. She seems to be asleep. Paula hovers in the background. She tells Whitey that she only gave Marilyn the pills she was given by her doctor. A waiter comes in and delivers a telegram, but it is not the expected telegram by the President. It is a telegram by Fox. Marilyn wakes up and demands to see the President. While Whitey puts make-up on her neck and back. Marilyn explodes in a fit:

‘That wife of his
That posh little
Dark rich bitch
She tries to keep him away from me
Skinny little dark
Dark skinny little sssll---
But I won’t let her
He must come to me
He must marry me
Marry me
You know
He promised to marry me
You know
Don’t you?
(She grabs more champagne, fights Paula who wants to take it away from her.)
I need this...
Is he with her?
Is that why he won’t come to me?’

Whitey tries to continue work on her hair, while Marilyn asks for more sleeping pills. When she told not to et ‘the people’ wait, she replies that the only way to know they are waiting for her, is to let them wait. Then the speaker announces her appearance on the stage of Madison Square garden: ‘Ladies and gentlemen: Miss Marilyn Monroe...!’

Whitey panicks, while Paula starts philopsophizing about parallel universums and time zones. Then she wakes up, and grabs the telegram, again hoping its from JFK. Upon reading the telegram, still the one by Fox, she faints: he fired her for neglectance and breach of contract.

Scene 2

The situation changes from Whitey and Paula’s, to Marilyn’s reality. She cries out, ‘Daddy! Daddy! Daddy?’ Clark Gable and Joe DiMaggio appear simultaneously. They have a confusing scene where they are involuntarily introduced to each other’s part in Marilyn’s life. She addresses to both of them at the same time, scolding them for trying to turn her into something she just wasn’t carved out to be. DiMaggio tried to turn her into a housewife, ‘housewife’, even though it was the last thing on earth a star like DiMaggio needed. As for Gable, his problems could have been solved by any good Italian cook. To which DiMaggio replies that he didn’t want no cook, just her and her white skirt blowing about her legs, just not for the whole world to see, but just for him alone. Marilyn continues about daddy:

I need to know
Was it me?
I know it was me
Who caused your death

But Baby
I’m here
How could you
Cause my death?

Are you alive?

Who cares?
Let’s have a drink
Now that we’re here


Joe declines. Marilyn and Gable drink a toast to ‘Mrs Miller DiMaggio Monroe!, and to little Norma Jeane!’ Marilyn murmurs she’s like to be taken home by them. Gable kisses her with the iconic kiss from Gone with the Wind. Gable and Joe wrap her in her white fur and escort her onto the stage under waves of cheering and applause. Marilyn reaches the microphone. She hesitates, turns around to Gable and Joe for help. The announcer then announces ‘The late Marilyn Monroe!’

Marilyn lowers her fur, misses her cue with the orchestra and tries to sing:


You’re fired!

(panics; cries out to Gable and Joe)

I can’t go on---
I’m a failure
I’m not her!
I don’t know where she is

Gable Joe
She’s here
(Gable and Joe sing; she tries to sing along.)
Happy birthday

To you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Mr. President---‘

The voice keeps telling her that she’s a failure and fired. She looks around for help, but instead of Gable and Joe she sees Jack (JFK) and Bobby (RFK), looking like boardingschool boys, who toast her. She’s confused at first, then charmed by the young men. Bobby & Jack toast to the blonde bombshell

‘So marvelous
So adorable
As American as applepie
You’re every red blooded male’s dream
Come true’

Another drugs and alcohol induced imaginary conversation takes place, where the voice that fires her keeps haunting her, while she tries to speak with Bobby & Jack about their kids and kids in general. The two reply respectlessly that all that matter is to score as many gorgeous broads as possible, and for that you have to be nice. Which draws a clear response from Gable & Joe:

‘Who’s talking about fucking ‘nice’?
She’s just a broad

Jack Bobby
Just a broad

She killed me

She’s fired

Jack Bobby
Fucking bitch

I want another take

Jack Bobby Gable Joe
We’ll shag you, fuck you
Strip you, sandwich you
Ride you, whip you,
Handcuff you
And you’ll cry out
Come back for more
For we’ve got power
And you’re a whore
(They grab her.)

(desperately turning to Jack)
You said you would marry me
Marry me!’

This degrading nightmare continues for a while, upon which Marilyn asks Paula and Whitey to take care of her and her legacy after she will have died.

Act 3 – Deathday

Scene 1


Evening, a couple of months later. In Fox’ office. He reads a letter that requires him to hire the services of Marilyn under specific conditions. This causes him to lament the changes in Hollywood that the likes of Miss Monroe brought about, causing him to hire where he used to own:

‘I will talk her round
I shall talk her round
She’s nothing but a gorgeous ass
And I’m the one who
Gets the gorgeous ass to work
I’m entitled to her
I’m the one who sold her magic to the world
All the time and money wasted
Waiting for her to deliver the goods
Waiting for her to overcome her crazy disabilities
Her downs, her obsessions, her jealousies, her suicidal states
Waiting for her Waiting for her Waiting for her ---
Even now’

BenLyonHe pours one of the two waiting glasses from a bottle of champagne , carefully selects a cigar, cuts the point, lights up and inhales – he waits. Marilyn arrives. She was held up at the door, where the doorman had gotted a new dog, after the old one had ded. He asked marilyn to name the puppy. She suggested ‘Jack’, for the President, which causes Fox to iquire whether she had assured if he was wasn’t a republican. When Fox tries to turn the topic to business, Marilyn interrupts him by saying that she was aslo late because she met the new cleaning woman. When she realizes that Fox doesn’t have a clue who that is, she tells him all about this woman, Philomena, for whom she autographed her photograph. Fox snares that she’ll just sell them, which induced Marilyn to scold his cynical character:

‘They’re people
They’re the people
Who made me what I am
They love me

The studio loves you too, Marilyn

And do you?

Of course I do---‘

Next Fox comes to the point: he wants her back, and offers an increased contract. Now Marilyn interrupts him:

‘I work for
Marilyn Monroe Pictures Incorporated now
You fired me
You wanted a star to replace me
But no one could take my place
So you must pay my price


You try and play with the big boys
But they’ll flay you alive
You could never be a producer

I think I can
I’m more than just a moneymachine
Only after you fired me
I realized I’m the one who pays the bills of
The lawyers you hired to fire me’

Fox doubts its Marilyn speaking to him, but she continues to convince him of what she tried to convince him of all along: that she was never lying, but always really sick:

‘But when I did you said I was a fraud
You said I had two talents in front
And two behind, and everybody laughed
Including me’

Fox offers her some champagne. Marilyn asks for Whiskey. Fox reminds her of the fact that he acknowledged her talent before anyone else did. He forcefully tries to embrace her; she seems on the verge of giving in, but fights loose. Then she asks why he never loved her. She starts swallowing pills, which she swallows down with whiskey. Fox offers her a million dollor, saying that she wins the game. They will make their last picture. Marlyn cursus the fact that he doesn’t answer her only real question. Fox and his office disappear.

Scene 2

Marilyn is alone in a mental no man’s land; this is her home. She dials a number on her telephone. When she anonymously tries to call the president, she is disconnected. She slams down the receiver; tries to control her emotions; then dials again, scolding whoever disconnected her, upon which she slams the horn on the receiver again, before redialing: 

‘I shall not lose confidence
I shall train my will
I am the little Engine that Could
I think – I can
I think – I can
Paula, please, please, pick up the phone
(No answer; growing desperation.)
I need you to tell me that
I’m a great woman
Not a whore
(puts down the receiver; picks it up and dials again)
Eve, it’s me---
Could you come by?
O---I’m sorry
No, no, I understand you’re busy---
That’s very kind, thank you---
Yes, may be I will---
(puts down the receiver; musing)
‘Not his brother’s procurer’
He lied to me
They both lied to me
They have them by the score
But they look down on me
There’s definitely, definitely
Something wrong with me
Another night with no sleep
What are nights for, I wonder?’

Scene 3


The same space as before. When Marilyn returns with new pills, Norma Jeane, 19 years old, is sitting on the couch, still wondering what nights are for. She has a conversation with Marilyn, telling her that the studio has found her a new name. Marilyn protests. She beleives Norma Jeane to be a good name, but Norma shrugs: 

‘It’s not a winner

It’s yours

Norma Jeane
It’s not for a star---
I’m going to be a great moviestar’

NormaJeaneBakerMarilyn sighs ‘Yeah’, and starts washing pills down with whiskey. Norma Jeane ask for food, since she is hungry. Marilyn, remembering she always felt hungry in the past, appologizes: she has only booze and pills to offer. Norma Jeane asks for champagne, Marilyn has only whiskey to offer. Norma Jeane continues to tell her of her prospects as a future star, which causes Marilyn to inform her that she will have to spend a good deal of time on her knees to achieve it. Norma Jeane shrugs her shoulders. If that’s what is expected of her, there will be no problem:

‘Nothing wrong with sex
I can just give it
I don’t ask a price
It’s ok

But you pay
With abortions

Norma Jeane
O come on
The thought of a baby
Makes my hair stand on end!
And anyway, it’s no big deal

(almost a whisper)
It may be. Some day

Norma Jeane
Now look here
What do you know anyway
I love Hollywood
And I won’t spoil my chances

You can’t fool me
I know you’re shy
And sad and bitter
You’re frightened
And you feel
Unloved and unwanted
And that’s the truth’

More pills and whiskey wash down Marilyn’s throat, while Norma jeane starts to mock her for being quite a good example herself! Marilyn tries to warn her once again, saying that fame is a killer, which will turn her into a hollow woman, but Norma Jeane replies that she’s just a jealous old hag. When the subject comes to some anemones that are lying around, Marilyn clears the air by presenting them to Norma Jeane, since they will look great on her dress. She quotes Shakespare on flowers, and the conversaton comes to books. Norma jeane doens’t know why she reads specific books. She just tries them and shows Marilyn what she is reading right then: Rilke’s Letters to a young Poet. Marilyn quotes Rilke, from her own memory:

‘You must realize
That something is happening to you
That life has not forgotten you
That it holds you in its hand
And will not let you fall’

The two become philosophical, and ask themselves why they delve so deep into their souls. When Marilyn sais she would wish for someone who could help Norma jeane to be herself, the latter replies that she doesnt want to be herself. She wants to escape from, and then reinvent herself. When Norma Jeane fades away, Marilyn pleades her to stay, since she needs her help to clarify some things in her life:

‘Don’t leave me
To be pushed around
Like a piece of meat again
A joke
I’m afraid they’ll say
I’m in a suicidal state
When all I want to do is---
Die ---
No ---
I mean---
You forgot---
The anemones---
I gave them to you---
They’re flowers of blood
Flowers of tears
You wanted nothing from me
Nothing ---
Not even a good-bye
‘Weary of the world---
---Where the queen---
Means to immure herself---
And not be seen---’


She loses consciousness.

Scene 4

Marilyn is dead; she comments as it were on the events after her death; her iconic images fill the stage, while she asks if they took her body to a hospital or not? Perhaps they searched her room for the secret diaries? The docter eased everyone’s consience, but in reality he just searched for her tapes:

‘He shouldn’t have done that
I’d trusted him – Wrong again
So many men walked in and out
While I lay there, prone, nude, lifeless
Story of my life
‘Possible overdose of barbiturates’
And later: ‘Acute barbiturate poisoning’
And still later: ‘Probable suicide’
‘Or at least: a gamble with death’
Well isn’t that what life is?
Joe took care of my funeral
Thank god – he was so sweet
I’d have married him again on the spot
If I had been alive
He called Whitey to take care of my face
Barked all Kennedys away from my grave
Had ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ played
Which brought tears to my dead eyes
Had a bronze plaque put on my grave
And has sent roses ever since
What I still worry about
But what’s a worry in eternity –
Is the final indignity
Of those photographs in the morgue:
My uncovered dead face
Bruised, blotched, sagged
Hair swept straight back


And my left foot
Peeping out from under the sheet
A tag around my toe with a number:
Six-two six-O-nine
O-eight-O-five ---
That’s a lot of numbers
So it was the fifth of August
Nineteen sixty two
I didn’t remember---
Shouldn’t worry though
For it was only the beginning---
Only the beginning---‘



The Waiting for Miss Monroe premiere in Amsterdam’s City Theater ‘Stadschouwburg’ was practically sold-out. By good fortune, it coincided with the end of the European Championship opening game for the Dutch against Denmark, which had started conveniently early. Therefore the beginning of the opera coincided with the end of the lost game for the Dutch. No orange colored partying therefore, but slightly saddened faces strutting the streets in the gloomy sunset. Inside the theatre, no one cared. These people hadn’t come to cherish a football match, but to celebrate the baptism of a brand new Dutch opera, by the promising Dutch composer Robin de Raaff! Anticipation was rife. Admittedly, a part of the audience was invited among relatives of The Dutch Opera and those involved, but there have been Holland Festival premieres with less people attending. Holland has a strong base of modern music lovers. Apparently, the plot revolving around the tragicomical life of Marilyn Monroe in the operatic translation of Janine Brogt and De Raaff evoked curiosity. Perhaps this curiosity had an inner logic. Whereas De Raaff told us in the interview elsewhere in these pages that he didn’t have the same feelings about Monroe as those of her generation, that was decidedly different for the audience. Most of them clearly had nostalgic memories of the blonde bombshell.

The opera started with intimate, but gripping tones, after which the empty stage of the City Theatre was quickly transformed into a credible 'Fox film studio'. In the orchestral part, the score presented De Raaff as we know him, but the vocal part left a mixed impression. Too much parlando, not enough speed in the action, or so we summarize the review in Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. that may have referred foremost to the opening scene, which indeed was well defined by the title of the opera. It was due to the direction of Lotte de Beer, that the action managed to keep the attention of the audience. Her ingenious way to turn the cold film studio into a cozy hacienda patio for scene 2 was effective. There it was also time for the heroine, personified by a charismatic Laura Aikin. Although the scene with the pregnant photographer Eve dragged a little, there were also some vocal higlights to enjoy, especially in the later moments, where Marilyn's mother instincts were becoming predominant, while lsitening to the child in Eve's womb. Things subsequently came together in the third scene, where Marilyn arrived to the film set. From the point of libretto and direction, the scene with Marilyn cuddling the dogs and her film children, became the equally predictable and endearing highlight of the act.

The break presented ample opportunity to let the blood circulate a little bit better through the veins of the average opera lover, and it must be said: only very few had left during the break. That is always a clear indication that the audience was expecting something from the remainder of the production. They were well served in the second Act. The Showboat-like scene in which Marilyns ex-husbands and lovers Joe DiMaggio, Clark Gable, and the Kennedy brothers appeared, was well wrought and musically inspired. It proved the absolute highlight of the score, with a little help from the libretto. Without imitating exapmples, De Raaff  had found inspiration here in the rich musical tradition of, say, Broadway. Having said that, the surprise was perhaps that De Raaff, renowned as a composer of very serious and hermetic musical soundscapes, managed to blend this lighter style with his own. In a way, the nature of the action sort of gave him an escape for writing true vocal music, since the ensemble setting didn’t ask for individual vocal characterization. The magnificent cast here, also took the music to the next level.

Alain Coulombe en Tom Randle truly personified Clark Gable and Joe DiMaggio, while John Tessier and Daniel Belcher painted a wholly new picture of once highly regarded politicians such as the libertine brothers JFK & RK. The guttural language that these two misfits uttered made many a man in the audience smile wickedly, while as many women looked up to the ceiling in an attempt to pretend not to hear what was actually being propagated – for all of thirty minutes, the late fifties had returned! Star of the show was of course Laura Aikin, who embodied both the vocal and physical curves of Monroe. She was seconded by a sovereign Helena Rasker as Paula, who impressed with vocal power in those moments that she was vocally allowed to push the pedal. David DQ Lee couldn’t look forward to much more than stuttering in his – important – role of Marilyn’s hair dresser, but he did so in an impressive way. The act culminated in a climax that brought the audience to delight.

On paper, the final third Act should have been the culmination point of the opera, but Brogt’s well wrought words for the opening scene missed their bite interms of the music. Was the cause perhaps to be seen in the fact that Fox's role remained very superficial in musical terms? Yes. But Dale Duesing, who portrayed Fox,  was also to blame. What went wrong? Was he miscast? Was the music not suited to his voice? Was he indisposed? Had he perhaps decided not to invest too much time in his role, given the unlikely chance that he would ever get to sing it again? Whatever the reason, he couldn’t match the elvel of the others in the cast, where he should have dominated them throughout in his role of studio owner Fox. Thus, the Act II opening monologue and the subsequent meeting between Fox and Marilyn became a dragging affair. In Marilyn’s telephone scene things started going again, although this scene had a hard time in comparison to, say Poulenc’s La voix humaine, or Menotti's The Telephone. Things decidely progressed from there onwards, first where Marilyn met her younger self, the cold hearted, selfish Norma Jeane, and then in her final monologue, which had her dying died in a gripping pendant on Isolde’s 'Liebestod'.

Even if Waiting for Miss Monroe will not become part of the opera repertoire as such, it must be pointed out that the second act and the finale were on a par with the very best operatic music that has been composed in Holland since WW II 9and before that no one can tell, since there is hardly a single note know from that period). These two marvellous highlights deserve to be heard anywhere. As for the remainder of the opera... Admittedly, the majority of coaches are those who watch sports games at home. Acknowledging that, I still dare say that Dutch opera composers reveal an odd paradox: on the one side, they are fascinated by the opera as a genre even more than anywhere else, while on the other side they seem to deliberately want to present an alternative for the opera conventions that the public has favored ever since the days of Mozart, Bizet, Verdi, Wagner, or Puccini.

This has nothing to do with their music being ‘modern’. On the contrary. Modern music is becoming more and more popular, and De Raaff’s best music is globally competitive. The first act of Waiting for Miss Monroe could easily be reduced to a fine symphonic suite. However, in the end, opera, including modern opera, simply stands or falls with gripping vocal writing. It was precisely the blend between De Raaff’s own style and the Broadway/West End clichés that he dared to use, which led to the mentioned fascinating result in Act II. The final and large parts of the role of Marilyn Monroe clearly show that De Raaff can write interesting and enjoyable vocal music.Yet, the opera is not a homogenuous work. Regardless, it would be a shame if Waiting for Miss Monroe iproved de raaff's final opera. I sincerely hope that it will prove to be a transitory work, leading to a third opera in whcih he he can combine his orchestral skills with inspired vocal writing in such a ay, that it creates an arch that spans the full length of the work. A fine subject for such an opera presented itself while I was writing this review. Just now I heared (in the eight ‘o clock news – for God’s sake) that Estelle Cruyff (cousin of the world famous football legend Johan Cruyff) has filed for divorce against her husband, the ‘Black Tulip’ aka Dutch football legend Ruud Gullit. I can just see an opera in two acts and the third half. The libretto we can supply, but since we have now full faith in Brogt’s abilities, we gladly pass this subject on to her.