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Lyr/Tune Req: Ballad of Baby Doe / Baby Doe Tabor

Les Benedict 09 Feb 97 - 01:55 AM
Sandy 11 Mar 97 - 01:59 AM
Joe Offer 26 Nov 03 - 09:58 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Nov 03 - 12:12 AM
GUEST,Cyndie 04 Jun 12 - 06:40 PM
katlaughing 04 Jun 12 - 09:47 PM
GUEST,Cyndie 06 Jun 12 - 10:21 PM
GUEST 02 Dec 17 - 06:04 PM
Jim Dixon 03 Dec 17 - 12:02 PM
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Subject: Baby Doe Tabor
From: Les Benedict
Date: 09 Feb 97 - 01:55 AM

I'm looking for the lyrics and tune to a song about Baby Doe, the woman who married mining millionaire Tabor in Colorado in the 1880's. I remember hearing a recording in the late 1950's by an unknown (to me) country artist. Partial lyrics -- "... he dressed her in velvet the color of wine, his name was Tabor and he owned the mine..." and the chorus had the lines, "...while the wind was a sighin' Baby Doe lay a dyin'..." Thanks for your help.


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Subject: RE: Baby Doe Tabor
From: Sandy
Date: 11 Mar 97 - 01:59 AM

I can't give you lyrics, but here are a few leads:

I read that in 1956 John Latouche wrote the liberetto for an opera - " The Ballad of Baby Doe" It has been performed many times at the Central City Opera House.

This may not be what you are looking for, though. If you really want to find it, I would check with the Denver Public Library or the Colorado Historical Society.

To me, it really sounds a lot like Johnny Horton - he did a lot of historical ballads in the late 50s - but I don't know where to find listings of his song titiles.


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Subject: RE: Baby Doe Tabor
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Nov 03 - 09:58 PM

There is an answer to this question. I found it here: http://www.culturevulture.net/Opera/BabyDoe.htm (love that URL).

    The Ballad of Baby Doe, which had its premiere in 1956, was commissioned by the Koussevitsky Foundation of the Library of Congress to commemorate the bicentennial of Columbia University. (Composer Douglas Moore was on the Columbia faculty.) It is one of the most popular American operas, one of very few to establish itself firmly in the contemporary repertoire, though only now getting its first production at San Francisco Opera.
    Based on historical characters in the American west in the late nineteenth century, both the themes of the opera  and Moore's music are unmistakably American. Horace Tabor was a Colorado silver mining tycoon, his success due, at least in part, to his marriage to Augusta, "the boss' daughter." But Augusta clings to social convention and middle class values, while Horace, from humbler beginnings, is less constrained, and as a frontier man and an entrepreneur, less judgmental. "Dollars from the saloon, dollars from the mines - makes no difference," he says.
    Elizabeth "Baby" Doe arrives in town, having divorced her miner husband. She and Horace fall in love. Some months later Augusta learns of the affair and vows to break it up, but she fails - Horace divorces her and marries Baby Doe. Augusta is deeply bitter, and Horace and Baby Doe, despite the huge financial success of the silver mines, are snubbed socially. Tabor's fortune is lost when the silver market collapses, but Baby Doe remains loyal to him.
    The opera's setting is quintessentially American: the westward migration, a mining town at the frontier, populist politics, upward economic mobility, and the openness of democratic opportunity side-by-side with social climbing pretentiousness and class distinction.
    The first act is largely expository, establishing characters and situation, but the second act changes gears in an unanticipated way. The plot line - the loss of fortune and the survival of true love - fades in importance, supplanted by an an exploration of the characters of Augusta and Horace in unexpected psychological depth. The conflict that makes Baby Doe work with powerful theatrical effectiveness is not the conflict in the romantic triangle, but the individual internal conflicts of Augusta and Horace as they reflect on their lives and behaviors, face their mortality, and try to find an elusive emotional and spiritual peace.
    Baby Doe herself is far less complicated; she embodies down-to-earth values and an open and loving heart, loyal to her man even in reduced circumstances. But the character doesn't offer the introspective reflection that the others do, nor does she change with time and circumstances as the others do. Moore gives his soprano ravishingly beautiful arias, as shimmery as the silver itself, performed superbly in this production by Ruth Ann Swenson.
    It was veteran mezzo Judith Forst's Augusta who became the more interesting, more sympathetic character in a performance acted and sung with profound conviction. After she refuses a request by Baby Doe's mother for help for the family when their money is gone, Augusta sings an aria that movingly explores her experience of rejection, her genuine yearning to overcome her bitterness, and her understanding that her history with Horace is a part of her always. The aria ends with moving irony when Augusta is unable to make the leap to forgiveness, and in understanding that failing, defines both her humanity and her own tragedy.
    Horace, too, gets a major aria of reflection in the final scene, at the darkened opera house of Leadville, his memories fleshed out with flashbacks running through his failing mind as he confronts both his past and his mortality. In the end, as snow starts to fall, it is only the constancy of Baby Doe's love that gives meaning to his life and hers. James Morris' performance captured both Horace's bravado and his underlying vulnerability.
    Moore's music draws on folk themes, hymns, old waltzes. It is melodic and accessible, but also succeeds in maintaining a sufficiently dry edge to avoid the sort of cloying sentimentality that these sources might engender.
    John Coyne's handsome production, with varying scenic elements set against a backdrop of rugged Rocky Mountains, set just the right tone, with smoothly accomplished transitions from scene to scene, the whole serving the story ideally without becoming intrusive. 
    In this, the third production of the current season, SFO finally got all the pieces together - fine singing and acting in an appropriate production of an American opera that is thoughtful, sophisticated, and genuinely moving.

Reviewed from San Francisco Opera performance, September 27, 2000


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Subject: RE: Baby Doe Tabor/Ballad of Baby Doe
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Nov 03 - 12:12 AM

Douglas Moore's opera premiered in 1956 at the Central City Opera House, and it has been performed, mainly as highlights, at the Tabor Grand Opera House in Leadville. It is regularly performed in opera houses around the world and is justly famed. Sometimes it is coupled with Moore's one act operitita "The Face on the Barroom Floor."

There also was a movie, I think in the 40s ("Baby Doe"?)- I still remember scenes, but not the actors. I don't remember any music from the film, but doubt that there was a ballad.

However, I think Les Benedict is looking for a song which had nothing to do with the opera or film. I wouldn't doubt that there is one, since everybody in the Rocky Mountain area knows the story, but I can find nothing on it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Req: Ballad of Baby Doe / Baby Doe Tabor
From: GUEST,Cyndie
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 06:40 PM

I have also heard the song. Here are some lyrics I remember:

In a mining town on the great divide,
while the men dug silver from the Matchless Mine,
their women folk ran to and fro
spreading the gossip of Baby Doe.

The scandal soon spread near and far
of the girl who danced at the Silver Star
and the gentleman who dressed so fine
known as Tabor and he owned the mine.

While the miners kept working,
their women kept smirking
and Tabor was loving his sweet Baby Doe.

They laughed and threw his money away,
until he was dropping a thousand a day,
and then one day the mine shut down
and Mister Tabor rolled out of town.

When the miners quit working,
their women quit smirking
and Tabor walked out on his sweet Baby Doe.

Poor Baby Doe died all alone,
without a friend to call her own.
They found her dead in a mining shack
where she was a-waiting for him to come back.

While the wind was a-sighing,
Baby Doe lay a-dying
and that's the sad story of sweet Baby Doe.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Req: Ballad of Baby Doe / Baby Doe Tabor
From: katlaughing
Date: 04 Jun 12 - 09:47 PM

Thanks, Cyndie, that's a lot more than we've had these many years.

I can't believe I missed this. This is one of my fav. operas. I have a beautiful LP set with book with Beverly Sills singing Baby Toe. It is a superb production!


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Req: Ballad of Baby Doe / Baby Doe Tabor
From: GUEST,Cyndie
Date: 06 Jun 12 - 10:21 PM

I'm glad that I was able to help a little. I agree that I don't think the song had anything to do with the opera, but I would dearly love to hear that song again. I remember the tune, but unfortunately, I don't remember all of the lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Req: Ballad of Baby Doe / Baby Doe Tabor
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Dec 17 - 06:04 PM

I learned this song from a 45RPM record in 1964. I don't remember the artist or lyricist but I don't think it was Johnny Horten cuz I was pretty much into all his recordings. Anyways.. years after this question, I found it while I was looking for the lyrics again.
Ballad of Baby Doe only mostly leads to the Opera about her. I remember most of the song but there seems to be a couple of lines missing just before the last chorus. Not sure though.

In a mining town on the great divide,
came a mint of Silver from the Matchless Mine,
and the womenfolk ran to and fro
spreading the gossip of Baby Doe.

The gossip soon spread near and far
'bout the girl who danced at the Silver Star
and the gentleman who dressed so fine
known as Tabor and he owned the mine.

While the miners kept working, their women kept smirking
and Tabor was loving his sweet Baby Doe.

He put her up in the Tabor House,
the finest hotel anywheres about.
Dressed her in velvet the color of wine,
charged it up to the Matchless mine.

They laughed and threw his money away,
'til he was droppin' a thousand a day,
and then one day the mine shut down
and Mister Tabor rolled out of town.

While the miners quit working, their women quit smirking
and Tabor walked out on his sweet Baby Doe.

Poor Baby Doe died all alone,
without a friend to call her own.
They found her dead in a mining shack
where she was a waiting for him to come back.

While the wind was a sighing, Baby Doe lay a dying
and that's the sad story of sweet Baby Doe.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Req: Ballad of Baby Doe / Baby Doe Tabor
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 03 Dec 17 - 12:02 PM

The musical score for "The Ballad of Baby Doe" (the whole opera, with music by Douglas Moore, and libretto by John Latouche) is held by many libraries. WorldCat.org might tell you where you can find it in a library near you.


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