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Libretto by Charles M Nolte (E)

Scoring

lyrS,S,M,A,2T,Bar,B; chorus
2(II=picc).2(II=corA).2(II=bcl).2-3.2.2.1-timp.perc(2):BD/SD/brake
dr/bamboo wind chimes/wdbl/tpl.bl/large bell in A/tgl/glsp/chimes/
cast/tam-t/tom-t/anvil/claves/tamb/cyms/susp.cyms/ratchet/large and
small maracas/bell tree/TD/t.bells/4gongs-harp-pft(=cel)-strings

Abbreviations (PDF)

World Premiere
24/04/1976
O'Shaughnessy Auditorium, St. Paul, Minnesota
H. Wesley Balk, director
Conductor: Philip Brunelle
Company: Minnesota Opera Company

Roles

DOCTOR (also Wedding Guest, Passenger, etc.) Tenor
EDGAR ALLAN POE Tenor
GRISWOLD (also Captain, Mr. Allan, etc.) Baritone
MRS. POE (also Ballad-singer, etc.) Soprano
MRS. CLEMM (also Aunt Nancy, etc.) Mezzo Soprano
MRS. ALLAN (also Granny Poe, etc.) Contralto
THEATRE DIRECTOR (also M. Dupin, etc.) Bass
VIRGINIA POE Lyric Soprano
Chorus of Passengers, etc. (minimum of 24) Sopranos, Altos, Tenors, and Basses
Time and Place

Mid-19th Century, a ship bound for Baltimore

Synopsis

Ill with fever and on an alcoholic binge, Poe embarks upon a hellish voyage of self-discovery when he boards a ghostly vessel bound for Baltimore.  During his voyage, Poe hallucinates about his mother's death and his own wedding ceremony.  Throughout these tortured images, Poe’s literary agent Griswold appears in various menacing roles. Poe is accused of longing for his wife's death in order to inspire his creative thinking. He denies the charges.  A trial convenes, with Griswold as judge. Driven to rage, Poe seizes a sword and lunges toward Griswold, who is merely an image in a mirror.  Griswold declares that it is Poe's soul—Poe's secret self—that has judged him. Poe stabs at the image in the mirror, but Griswold has disappeared and in his place stands an image of Poe himself. With a welcoming gesture, Poe's image stretches out his arm to receive the blows. The following dawn, Poe stands alone on the dock, hearing the voice of his wife Virginia singing to him. Poe dies. The doctor arrives and discovers Griswold standing over the body. The doctor explains that Poe had wished to take a ship the previous evening. Griswold assures him that no vessel departed.

Moods

Dramatic, Poetic, Tragic

Subjects

History, Literary, Magic/Mystery

Recommended Recording
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