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Libretto by John Olon-Scrymgeour, after Dickens's `Great Expectations' (E)

Scoring

Major role: colS; minor roles: 2S,2M,A,2T,Bar,BBar,2B,speaker; chorus
2(I=picc,II=afl).2(II=corA).2(I=ssax,II=bcl).2(II=dbn)-3.2.2.1-
timp.perc(2):vib/t.bells/glsp/susp.cyms/tam-t/BD/whip/tgl/tamb/
steel plate/steel anvil/bell tree/tpl.bl/wind chimes-harp-pft(=cel)-
harm or org-strings

Abbreviations (PDF)

World Premiere
22/03/1979
New York City Opera, New York, NY
H.Wesley Balk, director
Conductor: Julius Rudel
Company: New York City Opera

World premiere of version
03/06/2001
St. Louis, Missouri
Conductor: Beatrice Jona Affron
Company: Saint Louis Opera

Roles

AURELIA HAVISHAM, an elderly recluse Soprano
Aurelia Havisham, as a young woman of 1810 Soprano
ESTELLA DRUMMLE, adopted daughter of Miss Havisham Treble
Estella Drummle, as a woman of 1859-60 Mezzo Soprano
PHILLIP PIRRIP, known as Pip, as a poor boy of 1846-8 Treble
Phillip Pirrip, as a man of 1859-60 Baritone
GRACE-HELEN BROOME, called Nanny, as a young woman of 1810 Soprano
Grace-Helen Broome, as the former governess to Miss Havisham Soprano
BENTLEY DRUMMLE, man about town Tenor
ORLICK, caretaker at Satis House Bass
JAGGERS, Miss Havisham's solicitor Bass
THE CORONER, officiating at the inquest Bass Baritone
Sarah Pocket, relative of Miss Havisham Contralto
Camilla Pocket, relative of Miss Havisham Soprano
Georgiana Pocket, relative of Miss Havisham Mezzo Soprano
Raymond Pocket, relative of Miss Havisham Tenor
1st Woman, guest at the Assembly Ball Soprano
2nd Woman, guest at the Assembly Ball Soprano
3rd Woman, guest at the Assembly Ball Mezzo Soprano
1st Man, guest at the Assembly Ball (Raymond Pocket) Tenor
2nd Man, guest at the Assembly Ball Baritone
3rd Man, guest at the Assembly Ball Bass
1st Maidservant Soprano
2nd Maidservant Mezzo Soprano
Pumblechook, Uncle to Pip spoken role
A Chambermaid silent role
Time and Place

19th Century, the gardens and environs of the estate of Miss Aurelia Havisham; Satis House, Essex, England

Synopsis

Based after Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, the opera is subtitled “Being an investigation into the unusual and violent death of Aurelia Havisham on the 17 of April in the year 1860.”  Miss Havisham lives for 50 years in the seclusion of her home, and she dies when her wedding gown, which she has never removed since she was jilted by her fiancé, catches fire.  The work proceeds on two levels at once: Throughout the opera, an investigation about her death is held on one side of the stage while the explanatory action immediately follows.  A series of flashbacks fleshes out the coroner’s inquiry and past and present merge.  During the Prologue screams are heard and a figure, enveloped in flames, appears at the window of Satis House.  It is Miss Havisham.  Pip rushes in to try to save her.  The investigation of her death reveals the dark relationships Miss Havisham had with her adopted daughter Estella, and the orphan Pip.  The investigation also reveals that all of the relatives involved had some motive for her death.

Moods

Dramatic, Tragic

Subjects

Literary, Relationships, Society




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