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Christopher Sly

Photo: The Center for Contemporary Opera

Shawn Roy as Christopher Sly, performed by The Center for Contemporary Opera, NY, NY 1987

Argento, Dominick

Christopher Sly (1962)

Duration: 70 minutes

Comic opera in two scenes and an interlude

English   Deutsch  

Libretto by John Manlove, after the Induction Scene from Shakespeare's `The Taming of the Shrew' (E)


3S,M,3T,3Bar,B,mime hpd or pft-string quintet( on stage (optional)

Abbreviations (PDF)


This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere
Minneapolis, Minnesota
John Manlove, director
Conductor: William Johnson
Company: University of Minnesota


PETER TURPH, a tailor Tenor
HENRY PIMPERNELL, a smith Bass-Baritone
CHRISTOPHER SLY, a tinker Bass-Baritone
MARION HACKET, hostess of the ale-house Mezzo-Soprano
3 Huntsmen (later, 3 Servants) Baritone, Tenor, Bass
A Lord Tenor
2 Ladies Lyric-Sopranos
A Page Soprano
An officer of the law, musicians non-singing roles

Time and Place

16th century, England


Christopher Sly is the story of a drunken tinker pursued by his creditors.  Found sleeping off his liquor by a Lord and his hunting party, Sly is carted off to the castle where the Lord and his entourage decide to play an elaborate practical joke on him:  They try to convince the tinker that he is a nobleman gone mad, and his past life is merely a dream.  When Sly wakes up, his every need—especially for drink—is catered to.  The Lord even provides his own Page to masquerade as Sly’s young wife.  He then sees his creditors arrive at the castle and realizes that a joke has been played on him.  He resolves to get even with a joke of his own.  He makes off with as many of the Lord’s valuables as he can stuff in his sack, pays off his creditors, and lives happily ever after.  In fact, he comes before the curtain with the Lord’s mistresses on each arm and points to the moral of the story:  Pleasure is of the moment and should be enjoyed to the full.




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