Categories: Opera

How the Trumpet Got Its Toot

How the Trumpet Got Its Toot, based on a story by Ronald Kidd, was premiered in 2004 by Utah Opera. The opera shows how the young and idealistic trumpet finds his voice, discovering his place in the musical world. Along the way, we are introduced to all the instruments of the orchestra. The premiere was a big success, but because of musicians’ union rules, no recordings were allowed, which is the reason for the demo format.

Main roles

  • Trumpet (tenor)
  • Tuba (bass) *
  • Flute (soprano)

Supporting roles

  • narrator
  • mother (soprano)
  • father (tenor)

Secondary roles (can be sung by members of the chorus)

  • oboe (mezzo soprano)
  • clarinet (tenor)
  • bassoon (bass)
  • horn (tenor)
  • trombone (tenor)
  • percussion (spoken)
  • strings (soprano)
  • mayor (spoken)

Chorus (SATB)


1 flute, 1 oboe, 1 clarinet, 1 bassoon, 1 trumpet, 1 horn, 1 trombone, 1 tuba, 2 percussion, strings

Story Ronald Kidd
Libretto Anthony Plog
Music Anthony Plog
Duration approximately 1 hour 10 minutes

Act One

1. At home: Trumpet and his parents
2. Sinfonia: Flute teaches Trumpet about music

Act Two

1. Sinfonia: Auditions for herald
2. Sinfonia: Trumpet finds his toot


How the Trumpet Got Its Toot begins with a short orchestral prelude over which a narrator sets the scene: A Trumpet, born to a set of ordinary brass candlesticks, wants a life different from that of his parents.

Trumpet: I don’t want to be a candlestick
instead I want a life that’s filled with music
I’d love to play the entire day
and so to be a candlestick

When I play my melodies I feel as good as gold
I feel so happy and complete, I feel strong, I feel bold.

After an argument with his parents about what his true calling should be, the Trumpet meets a friendly tuba named Joe who is passing through town.

1st Excerpt

Tuba: I’m a tuba, um-pah
my friends call me Joe, ’cause I just like to blow
every day I play my do sol, played in every key, though,
and I am the basis of the orchestra
when I lay down my line it’s law,
it makes me really happy and as you will see
when I play my C and G everybody knows the key
so I would like to say if you really think I may,
I love to play the whole long day, it’s just my way,
and I get paid.

2nd Excerpt

Tuba: I live in a town where everything is melody and harmony
and if you would like to see, why not come along with me
to a place that’s fun for everyone, let’s run to Sinfonia.

Joe tells of an exciting city called Sinfonia, where everyone is an instrument and music is everywhere.

Tuba: In Sinfonia, there’s music here, there’s music there
you play all day, that way you may
belong and soon your life becomes
a holiday in every way, when people stay to hear you play
so go with Joe, who plays so low
and we will see what we can be
it’s me for you and you for me when we’re
in Sinfonia, I have a key and you will be my guest,
please leave the rest and come with me.

The Trumpet knows he must follow his destiny and go with Joe to Sinfonia. For his mother, however, this means she will be losing her son.

Trumpet: Destiny, it is my destiny
and it was meant to be, so that I now can see
that it is up to me
I’m more than a piece of tin
I’ll show them when I’m in Sinfonia.

Here’s my life, and it could be so nice
it could be such a view if I could only do
that which to me is new
and that is playing my music, not staying here,
please let me go.
Mother: So I will lose my boy, and he is my pride and joy
and if I let him go how can he ever know
how much this hurts.

It is a mother’s love, soft as a gentle dove.
Can’t you see how I feel now that it is so real
that you will go.

The townspeople say goodbye as Joe and the Trumpet head off to Sinfonia.

Chorus: In Sinfonia their destiny will set him free
and life will be a melody
that makes its way throughout the day
with happiness that’s truly blessed
because they do what they do best
so now it’s time to leave behind
what was before to search for more
and have their say and find their way,
let’s go!

The two travelers arrive in Sinfonia, where the Trumpet is befriended by a Flute. She teaches the Trumpet about music and life.

Flute: Now play along with me. Trumpet: I can’t. I’ll make a fool of myself. Flute: No, you won’ me. Trumpet: Well, okay. Flute: Music is much more than loud, it’s more than proud
it points the way for me so I can see how I should be
it’s my sight, it’s my light, and it makes my life complete.
Trumpet: But it always makes me proud when I play loud
and that is what I do.
Flute: Try something new, just take my cue
and I’ll teach you to reach for a whole new way of life.
So, what do you do best?
Trumpet: Fanfares, of course! Flute: Well, then let’s begin with that. Maestro, a fanfare, please. Trumpet: Fanfares are my life.

The town then learns of a contest to pick the next herald for the mayor of Sinfonia. The contest serves to introduce all of the instruments and their personalities not just to the Mayor but to the audience as well. These auditions are light and humorous. One example is the Trombone.

Trombone: I’ll play your fanfares with my slide
come with me and we will take a ride
toe to toe we will go, don’t say no, it is so,
and I’ll always be right by your side.

Why slide? you ask, ’cause I can’t play so fast
and when I’ve won I’ll show you how it’s done,
and we’ll have fun as we go make our rounds
when I bring forth my noble sounds
it is fate, please don’t wait, don’t be late, I’ll be straight,
if I may, let me stay, please hear me play.

It’s up to you, please take my cue,
my slide will be your pride.

When the Trumpet finally has his turn he first plays softly and beautifully, but at the urging of the crowd begins playing a fanfare. Going for a high note at the end of his fanfare the trumpet cracks the final note terribly and, as the audience laughs at him, leaves the stage in disgrace. Several hours later, a disconsolate Trumpet sings of his sadness and failure: He should never have come to Sinfonia, and now he will leave.

Trumpet: I should not be here. This is a nightmare for me,
now it’s so clear, so near. I thought I could make it
but I was wrong. This can not be my song.
I’ve lost my calling, I feel like I’m falling and
I should have never come here because now I am
all alone, I’m so sad, I miss my mom and my dad
now I’m crying ’cause inside I’m dying.
I can’t bear this sorrow, so I’ll leave tomorrow,
I know it now, I must go away from here.
That is my vow, that I’ll run from what I fear,
I will not stay, I’ll go away
What will I do, my life is through, I’ll leave.

As he prepares to go he notices a spark and then a fire. He plays a fanfare, loud and true, which alerts the townspeople and saves Sinfonia. In gratitude, the Mayor names him the new herald, and the crowd sings his praises. The Trumpet has found his toot!

Chorus: Now that you have saved Sinfonia
we know that friendship is the key
now we clearly see that you have brought us all together,
made us so much better.
Now we know we’re safe since you have found your place right here
and you have our devotion and it is our notion
that you will stay with us and that we will have your trust,
so we’ll be happy now if you will take your bow
and from today you’ve made your way into our group,
you’ve found your Toot!