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The Gonzales Cantata: Live at the Rotunda

by Melissa Dunphy

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    Includes high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more. Paying supporters also get unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app.

    Download includes pdf's of the full score, piano-vocal score, libretto, and original 2009 Philadephia Fringe Festival program.
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  • T-Shirt/Apparel + Digital Album

    Gonzales Cantata artwork screenprinted on Anvil Pre-Shrunk (men's) or Gildan Soft Style (women's) shirts. Alberto's genderbent face in color on the front and "FACE THE MUSIC" with the Gonzales Cantata seal in black and white on the back. Unfortunately we are sold out of L and XL sizes -- but the Anvil shirts are oversized, so a M may work for larger fits.

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  • Poster/Print + Digital Album

    Poster by Molly Crabapple printed on glossy 11x17" cardstock.

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  • Poster/Print + Digital Album

    Red Gonzales Cantata poster with genderbent Arlen Specter promo image printed on glossy heavyweight paper!

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  • Collector's item! One of the 122-page scores used by the soloists and chorus for the 2009 Philadelphia Fringe production of The Gonzales Cantata, signed by the composer! Scores may contain cosmetic blemishes, signs of use, and/or performers' markings.

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Introduction 02:11
2. INTRODUCTION LEAHY: Good morning. CHORUS: Today, the Department of Justice is experiencing a crisis of leadership. LEAHY: I've warned for years against lack of experience and judgment. CHORUS: We're seeing the results amid rising crime and rampant war profiteering, abandonment of civil rights, and lack of accountability. LEAHY: I fear the Justice Department is losing its way. Investigation into the firing of United States attorneys have revealed an administration that values
3. LOYALTY OVER JUDGMENT CHORUS: loyalty over judgment, secrecy over openness, ideology over competence.
The Purpose 00:58
4. THE PURPOSE GRASSLEY: It is improper to fire a U.S. attorney for unjust partisan gain. SPECTER: The purpose of this hearing is to determine whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should continue in that capacity.
The Oath 00:47
5. THE OATH LEAHY: Mr. Attorney General, please raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you will give before this committee will be the whole truth, so help you God? GONZALES: I do. CARDIN: Let us go over the U.S. attorneys who were fired.
6. WHAT IS ONE TO THINK? CHORUS: In New Mexico, a U.S. attorney refused to expedite a probe into Democrats before an election. In Nevada and Arkansas, in Arizona and California, U.S. attorneys investigated corrupt Republican politicians. In Washington, a U.S. attorney declined to intervene in a disputed gubernatorial election. In Missouri, there were voter fraud investigations. We look at those who were removed and find they were involved in political issues that were unpopular to the Republican establishment. What is one to think?
7. THE DECISIONS FEINSTEIN: Mr. Attorney General, I may be very slow. But I don't understand how this list was compiled. GONZALES: Senator, I have searched my memory. My schedule shows a meeting, but I have no recollection of it. SESSIONS: Well, I'm concerned about your recollection, really, because it's not that long ago. I would want to know who selected these individuals. Who was the decider? GONZALES: Senator, I'm the attorney general. I make the decisions.
8. I DON’T RECALL GONZALES: I did not make decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign. I don't recall ever saying, "No, take that person off," or, "Add this person." I ultimately approved the list of recommendations that were submitted to me. Those were my decisions.
9. YOU DON’T RECALL LEAHY: You don't recall the meeting where you made the decision. How can you be sure you made the decision? (LAUGHTER) GONZALES: Senator, I recall making the decision. LEAHY: When? GONZALES: Sir, I don't recall.
Preparation 02:00
10. PREPARATION SPECTER: Let me review some of the record with you. I know you're familiar with this record because I know you've been preparing for this hearing. GONZALES: I prepare for every hearing, Senator. SPECTER: Do you prepare for all your press conferences? Were you prepared for the press conference where you said there weren't any discussions involving you? GONZALES: I said I prepared for every hearing. SPECTER: Well, and I'm asking you, do you prepare for your press conferences? GONZALES: Senator, we do take time to prepare for the press conference. SPECTER: Let's -- let's move on. I don't think you're going to win a debate about your preparation, frankly.
11. STAND BY THE DECISION CARDIN: Mr. Gonzales, what concerns me the most is after reviewing all the facts, you stand by the decision. GONZALES: I do, Senator. I do. CARDIN: You would still do the same thing again. GONZALES: Senator... CARDIN: I don't understand that. GONZALES: Senator, I would use a different process, a different process... CARDIN: Same conclusion? GONZALES: I have no reason to believe that the basis of the recommendations was improper motives.
12. THIS IS NOT ABOUT ALBERTO GONZALES GONZALES: This is not about Alberto Gonzales. This is about the Department of Justice. I look back with pride in the things that we’ve accomplished. Protecting our kids, protecting our neighborhoods, protecting our country. I have to be -- I have to know in my heart that I can continue to be effective as the leader of this department.The moment I believe I can no longer be effective, I will resign.
Flagellation 02:41
13. FLAGELLATION CHORUS: It's almost as if the walls were actually crumbling on this huge department. Nothing gets answered directly. Everything is obfuscated. Something's rotten in Denmark. The way that this investigation has been handled is really deplorable. The communication was atrocious. It's generous to say there were misstatements. And I believe you ought to suffer the consequences. There is evidence of low morale -- very low morale, lack of credibility -- your personable credibility. The department is dysfunctional. I urge you to re-examine your performance and, for the good of the country, step down.
14. I THINK WE ALL WILL AGREE HATCH: I think we all will agree, I think you've agreed that this was poorly handled. GONZALES: Yes. HATCH: I mean, how many times do you have to be flagellated over that? There are two legitimate issues in the U.S. attorney controversy. First, were any of them removed for an improper reason? Second, did any administration officials knowingly mislead Congress or the public? After three months of hearings, all kinds of interviews, and thousands upon thousands of pages of documents, the evidence shows the answer to both of those questions is a resounding no.
Attack Me 03:07
15. ATTACK ME CHORUS: The evidence that we've uncovered shows that politics have entered the Department. You've come here seeking our trust. Frankly, Mr. Attorney General, you've lost mine. GONZALES: This is not about Alberto Gonzales. It's about what's best for the department. CHORUS: There are widespread abuses. And we know it goes even beyond what we've heard. GONZALES: Clearly, there are issues I have to deal with. I believe that I can be -- I think that there are some good things that I can accomplish on behalf of this country. CHORUS: Incompetent appointees. Legal briefs that contradict International Law. Executive interference in the Justice Department. GONZALES: I'm going to work as hard as I can to reestablish trust and confidence with this committee and members of Congress. LEAHY: I don't trust you. CHORUS: Torture of detainees. Illegal domestic surveillance programs. Harassment of the press. GONZALES: And of course, with the career professionals at our department. And all the credit, everything that we do, the credit goes to them. And so, when there are attacks against the department, you're attacking the career professionals. CHORUS: Perjury. GONZALES: You should attack me. You should attack me. (APPLAUSE) PROTESTERS: Fire Gonzales now! Stop lying! Liar! Liar! Impeach! LEAHY: Thank you. We stand adjourned.
Differently 04:00
16. DIFFERENTLY GONZALES: Looking back, things that I would have done differently? I should have told him, And I think he should have -- I should have asked him I should have told him the factors that I thought were important for him to consider. I should have told him, And I think I would have told him -- I should have told him, And we should have a list. I think these are the things -- I think these are the kinds of things, in hindsight, that I wish would have happened. I think it's also unfair (I think it’s all so unfair). It is clear that we struggled -- not struggled – Where we made a mistake, clearly -- I think -- is once we said "performance," we should have defined that. Because performance, for me, means lots of things. It means whether or not you've got leadership skills, whether or not you've got management skills. It may mean whether or not you support the president. It may mean that you don't have -- that you have a sufficient -- that you have relationships. And so there are lots of things that fall within the definition of performance-related. And I think that we should have defined what we meant by that.
17. GOD BLESS AMERICA CHORUS: God bless the land that gave us birth! No pray'r but this know we. God bless the land, of all the earth, The happy and the free. And where's the land like ours can brave The splendor of the day And find no son of hers a slave? God bless America! GONZALES: Thirteen years ago I entered public service to make a positive difference in the lives of others. I have traveled a remarkable journey. Yesterday I informed the president of my decision to resign. I often remind our fellow citizens that we live in the greatest country in the world and I have lived the American dream. Even my worst days as attorney general have been better than my father's best days. Thank you, and God bless America. CHORUS: God bless the land, the land beloved Forever and for aye! God bless the land that gave us birth. God bless America!


Recorded at the Rotunda September 2009 during the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.

The Gonzales Cantata is a musical setting of the drama and politics of the events leading up to the resignation of disgraced Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. In 2007, NPR news ran several stories featuring electrifying audio excerpts from the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into wrongdoings by Gonzales’ Justice Department, and like many listeners, I was shocked by the tension and emotion in the voices of the men (and the single woman) involved. As Gonzales was mercilessly grilled, I was reminded of Orpheus, alone and defenseless, facing the terrifying and all-powerful Furies of the Underworld. The doomed Orpheus in this modern tale, however, lacks the noble cause and incredible talent of the mythical Orpheus, and he even had a hand in the poisoning of his own Eurydice – the country he serves. This is the account of a man who has risen to the level of his own incompetence and must face the terrible consequences without hope of escape or redemption.

The cantata’s libretto was taken from two main primary sources – transcripts of the actual hearings, and Gonzales’ resignation speech. The text was carefully edited for length and clarity, but most of what is sung by the chorus and soloists was actually spoken during these events. One exception is Gonzales’ aria ―Differently,‖ in which snippets from Gonzales’ replies to the committee were pieced together to give a portrait of the man in his last moments in office.

In protest of the continued male domination of American politics – made obvious by the near-exclusivity of male voices in this drama – the genders of the soloists in the cantata have been reversed in relation to the characters they portray.


released November 1, 2009

Conductor: Melissa Dunphy

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales: Mary Thorne

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy: Jessica Lennick

Sen. Arlen Specter: Danya Katok

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch: Julia Mintzer

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin: Sydney de Lapeyrouse

Sen. Jeff Sessions: Emily Eisen

Sen. Charles E. Grassley: Esha Datta

Sen. Diane Feinstein: Daniel K. Williams

Soprano: Kris Neel, Christine Stief

Alto: Chrissy McHugh, Angela Lattanzio

Tenor: Skip Hale, Dan Moyer, Dan Pardo, Jim Alexander

Violin 1: Snow Shen, Julienne Leung

Violin 2: Emily Weigert, Heather Mehr

Viola: Heather Wright, Katie Moyer

Cello: Sarabeth Taber-Miller, Floreta Ioana Shapiro, Gozde Tiknaz

Harpsichord: Daniel Paul Lawson

Recording engineer: Joe Procopio

Mixing and Production: Matt Dunphy

Packaging: Melissa Dunphy

Special Thanks: Dina Steiner, Jorge McConnie-Saad, Gina Renzi, Jeff Goldstein, Becca Burrow, Nick Gilewicz, Christine Hobson, Julie Kremm, Robert Maggio, Van Stiefel, Larry Nelson, Timothy Weeks, Ovidiu Marinescu, Sean francis, Ashby Jones, Rachel Maddow.


©2009 Melissa Dunphy


all rights reserved



Melissa Dunphy Philadelphia

Nationally acclaimed award-winning composer Melissa Dunphy specializes in political and theatrical vocal music, such as the smash hit 2009 choral work the Gonzales Cantata (featured on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow). Her compositions have been performed around the country by Chanticleer, the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers, St. Louis Chamber Chorus, and the American Opera Theater. ... more


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