A tragic, lovestruck poem from 1887, a faded portrait on the barroom floor in a quaint Colorado town, and the most performed modern American opera in history: How are all of these CONNECTED?
Join the Lowell Film Collaborative as we partner once again with our good friends at Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union for a Sneak Preview of the newly completed, New England-produced documentary The Face on the Barroom Floor: The Poem, The Place, The Opera. Produced and directed by Rhode Island-based filmmaker Lawrence Kraman, written by David Patrick Stearns, and edited by an impressive young filmmaker, Dillon Poole, The Face will take viewers on a historical, musical, and poetic journey!
Post-film Q&A with the Filmmakers!
Lawrence Kramen • David Patrick Stearns • Dillon Poole
Wednesday, March 20 @ 7PM (Doors at 6:30PM)
Art Gallery at Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, 1 Tremont Place
(GPS: 257 Father Morissette Blvd.)
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THE FACE ON THE BARROOM FLOOR: THE POEM, THE PLACE, THE OPERA (2013)
Not Rated | 90 mins
Directed & Produced by Lawrence Kraman • Written by David Patrick Stearns
Edited by Dillon Poole
> View the trailer > View this film on IMDb
In 1978, a work commissioned by the fifth oldest opera company in the nation, the Central City Opera Company in Central City, Colorado, became one of the most performed modern American operas worldwide. “The Face On The Barroom Floor,” with music by Henry Mollicone and a libretto by John Bowman, took its inspiration from a painting of a female face on the floor of the Teller House bar that stands adjacent to the Opera House. The creation of that haunting portrait was in turn inspired by the ballad poem “The Face Upon The Floor,” written in 1887 by Hugh Antoine d’Arcy. Directed by Lawrence Kraman, written by David Patrick Stearns, and edited by Dillon Poole, the film connects the dots between this series of events that span almost a century: Hugh d’Arcy’s 1887 poetic composition, the painting of the face on the Teller House floor in 1939, and the premiere of Mollicone’s opera in 1978.
Told from the point of view of Mollicone himself, Colorado historians, residents of Central City, and many of the artists involved in the operatic production, Kraman’s documentary weaves together an unforgettable history of the arts in a former gold rush boom town.
A Fascinating Backstory! Hugh Antoine d’Arcy’s “The Face Upon The Floor” was inspired by a supposed occurrence in 1872 at Joe Smith’s Saloon at Fourth Avenue and 14th Street in Manhattan. Though d’Arcy’s work was first published in 1887 in the New York Dispatch, an earlier work based on the incident was written by the poet Henry James Titus and was published in 1872 in the Ashtabula (Ohio) Sentinel. Literary historians give recognition to both poets for each of their works, but unfortunately for Titus, it is d’Arcy’s poem that is more widely published and revered.
The story of “The Face” continues in 1939 when, as a late-night prank, a local artist sketched a face upon the floor of the historic Teller House Hotel in Central City, Colorado. With intentions of capitalizing on d’Arcy’s famed poem, the owners of the Teller House falsely advertised the face as the original one from d’Arcy’s work. Despite this inaccuracy, the face on the barroom floor of the Teller House is the number one tourist attraction in Central City.
With controversial and artistic origins such as this, it’s no wonder that d’Arcy’s poem has yielded a critically acclaimed 1914 silent film short directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin, a 1923 John Ford film, been put to song and adapted for the stage, publicly recited in its entirety, and was even featured and illustrated in a 1954 issue of Mad Magazine. Decades later in 1978, composer Henry Mollicone and librettist John Bowman were commissioned to write the opera “The Face on the Barroom Floor” for the Central City Opera Company which is adjacent to the Teller House Hotel — the one-act, 25-minute production has been performed by the Company every season since.
The final 25 minutes of Kraman’s documentary features a live performance by the Central City Opera of “The Face on the Barroom Floor,” captured in its entirety!