Libretto after the novel by Jean Rhys (E)
Merlyn Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Miriam Gormley/Lyndon Terracini
Conductor: Mark Summerbell
Company: Ensemble of Melbourne musicians
Recently married, Mr Rochester and his Creole bride Antoinette arrive at the country estate in the Windward Islands that had belonged to Antoinette’s mother. He is introduced to the three servants Baptiste, Christophine and Amélie. Learning of his wife’s fears, her laziness and suggestions of madness in her family, he is made aware of the extreme loneliness of his new life. The servants grow restless and Christophine leaves. Antoinette visits Christophine telling her that Rochester no longer loves her, but she cannot escape him because under English law all her property is now his. Rochester visits Antoinette’s half-brother Daniel and is told that their mother died mad. He turns to Amélie for sexual favours and Antoinette rages at her husband. Christophine admits she had put drugs in Rochester’s drinks. Rochester resolves to return to England and lock Antoinette away as a mad woman for the rest of her life. At Thornfield Hall in England Rochester hires Grace Poole to look after Antoinette and keep her imprisoned in the attic. Antoinette’s other half-brother Richard arrives to find his sister and confronts Grace Poole. When Rochester takes Richard to the attic, Antoinette attacks her husband who claims she is now mad. The following day she cannot remember the confrontation. She escapes from the attic and knocks down some candles, setting the house alight. She flees to the battlements and, believing she sees her mother waiting, jumps to her death.
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