The Nightingale & the Rose

40-Minute Workshop Musical

This short workshop musical was based on the fable by Oscar Wilde, with music by Aaron Alon and book and lyrics by Joe Barnes. The musical premiered on November 30, 2007, at the University of Houston School of Theatre’s José Quintero Black Box, with the composer at the piano.

The Nightingale & the Rose


A young Student wants to go to the ball with a Girl. She agrees but only if he can find a red rose to match her pink dress. (“Just a Simple Rose”) The Student goes into his garden and hears the Nightingale singing her song of love. (“Dream Away”) He can hear the nightingale’s voice but not understand her words. The Student searches his garden but cannot find a red rose. After a lifetime of studying, he finds that all his knowledge is useless, for it has not brought him any closer to finding what he truly wants: a red rose. (“What Do They Know?”) The Nightingale is moved by his plight. Despite the warnings of a cynical Little Green Lizard that humans are incapable of gratitude, she takes up the Student’s cause and goes in search of the red rose. Deep in the forest, the Nightingale finds two rose trees. One is yellow, the other white. They urge the Nightingale to consider their flowers. (“Pick Mine!”) She says she needs a red rose. The rose trees tell her that there is a red rose tree in the garden. It is right beneath the student’s window, but it is aged, covered in vines, and has neither spoken nor flowered in many years. After convincing the Red Rose Tree to speak, the Nightingale declares that it is no longer enough for her to sing of love; she now wants to be the song. (“I Long to Be the Song”) The Red Rose Tree tells the Nightingale that the only way for him to flower again is for her to die on his thorns while she sings her last song. The Nightingale agrees. She attempts to tell the Student that he shall have his rose, but he cannot understand her and shoos the Nightingale away. (“Fly Away”The Nightingale returns to the Red Rose Tree that night and throws herself onto his thorns. He sings a tender, mournful song as she dies in his arms. (“What of the Rose?”) The next morning, the Student returns to the garden and sees the dead Nightingale. He forgets her the moment he sees the red rose blooming on the red rose tree. The Student rushes off to take the rose to his beloved. The Girl says that she has instead decided to go to the ball with the Chamberlain’s son, who has sent a diamond necklace, a gift of much greater value than a rose. The boy angrily casts the rose away and returns to reading philosophy. The Little Green Lizard tells of the future of the characters and sings a wry song about life’s miseries, while the Girl dances a gay waltz, blithely unaware of the suffering she has caused. (“A Search for Answers”)

2007 University of Houston Cast
Left to Right: Jeff Stallings (The Red Rose Tree), Rachel McKeehan (The White Rose Tree), Melissa Iuliano (The Yellow Rose Tree), Galeano Salas (The Student), Shelley Auer (The Girl), Aimee Beyers (The Nightingale), Julia Becker (Asst. Director), and Jonathan Colunga (kneeling, The Little Green Lizard)

An unreleased studio recording was also made, with:
Angela Mortellaro (The Nightingale, The Girl), Jamie Geiger (The Student, The Red Rose Tree), Mike Lovell (The Yellow Rose Tree), and Aaron Alon (The White Rose Tree & Pianist).