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Book & Lyrics by Stan Gill / Music by Kristen Rosenfeld


The beloved Emperor of China is dying... but why? The Fisherman tells us it began a few years back when the Emperor was feeling as though his life had become routine. Then one day, he hears a glorious sound coming from his garden. He sends his attendants out to discover what is making the sound. They report back that the Fisherman said what they’ve been listening to is a nightingale... of course, the attendants, being as sheltered as the Emperor himself, have no idea what a nightingale is.

So off they all go to find the nightingale. When they meet her, they tell her what an admirer of hers the Emperor is, and she agrees to come and meet him. An instant bond is formed and they become friends. In the meantime, the attendants are surprised at how the Emperor has taken to such a plain and imprecise creature... after all, her song may be lovely, but it is different each time she sings it. One day a gift arrives from the Emperor of Japan. It is a mechanical nightingale... golden and jewel encrusted, and metronomically precise. The attendants are so enthralled with this music box that they declare it Nightingale Day in China. The mechanical bird is a big hit -- and the real nightingale, seeing she has been replaced, flies away.

As time goes by, the Emperor gets lonelier and lonelier until one day the mechanical bird breaks down. At their wits ends, the attendants go out and find the real nightingale and beg her to come backand sing for their Emperor. When she does, the Emperor regains his strength and we all learn the importance of friendship, truth and love.

Running time: Approx. 55 minutes


The Fisherman (m; narrator)
The Magician (m)
The Physician (f)
The Watch Maker (m)
The Music Master (f)
The Kitchen Maid (f)
The Emperor (m)
The Nightingale (f)
The Music Box (f)


"After the Drum" (Magician, Physician, Watch Maker, Music Master, Kitchen Maid)
"Something New" (Emperor)
"Finding the Nightingale" (Music Master, Watch Maker, Physician, Magician, Kitchen Maid)
"Nyow Cheow" (Nightingale)
"Nightingale Day" (Emperor, Magician, Physician, Watch Maker, Music Master, Kitchen Maid)
"Fly Away" (Emperor)
"Real, Real Things" (Fisherman, Kitchen Maid)
"Reunion" (Emperor, Nightingale)


Sample media

Sample Music Sheet
Teacher's guide