Open House sets seven poems of Theodore Roethke for tenor (or soprano) and orchestra. A version of the cycle for singer and two pianists is also available.
Excerpt from the Composer's Note:
The pervasive American problem in vocal study seems to be an attempt to replace American English diphthongs with Italian pure vowels. In this set, as in all my vocal writings, I urge a standard American speech...I do not want a "folksy" speech--just a diction that recalls American models...Roethke's own style of reading these poems aloud in class was so accented as to become lapidary; his main concern, aside from the accenting of key words, was to show the position of accentuated feet within a poetic line. His formal sense of line and accent should be preserved in the singing, as I have tried to preserve it in the setting.