'There was' Stories. For two singers and piano.
Lyrics by Edward Lear
I had the urge to write something comical, something to laugh about, something happy and jolly. For this I chose five limericks from 'A book of Nonsense'. These five '; There was stories are about three men and two women, and all have something to do with birds. When I started to write these duets I thought nothing more than to write something humoresque. But this changed after occupying myself with these poems. I suddenly had the feeling and vision that after writing the last note to the last song 'There was an young lady whose bonnet' that there is more than meets the eye to these simple nonsense poems. They have a deeper meaning, especially this last song, is more of a serious nature and has a slight melancholic character. This work is about five people who are different, eccentric, creative and unusual. It is about people that are not always understood and accepted. They are made fun off and laughed at. It is like a clown in costume, hiding his more serious side behind a mask and exaggerating things. The man with the over large beard, the man with the too long nose could resemble people that look different but are happy in themselves and do not bother too much what others think. The old man of Dunbree is an eccentric person who is convinced he can tame his owls and the lady of France is obsessed with her ducks. The young lady who loves to wear an oversized bonnet does not care what others think. Perhaps there is a lesson to learn here. Lets take each other for what we are and accept each other's looks and talents. The two singers could combine these five songs with some comments, short discussions and acting between each song and so create a whole story. I have left the actual discussions and acting to the individual performers.
There was an Old Man with a beard, Who said, ' It's just as I feared!Two Owls and a Hen, four Larks and a Wren, Have all built their nests in my beard!'
There was an old man of Dumbree, Who taught little owls to drink tea; For he said, 'To eat mice, is not proper or nice' That amiable man of Dumbree.
There was an old lady of France, Who taught little ducklings to dance; When she said, 'Tick-a-tack!'-They only said Quack!' Which grieved that old lady of France.
There was an Old Man, on whose nose, Most birds of the air could repose; But they all flew away, at the closing of day, Which relieved that Old Man and his nose.
There was a Young Lady whose bonnet, Came untied when the birds sate upon it; But she said, 'I don't care! all the birds in the air Are welcome to sit on my bonnet!