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Music Text

Libretto by Stephen Plaice (E)

Scoring

Professional roles: S,M,M(or good amateur voice),2bar
Children's main roles: 2 boys,1 girl,1 child as ink-monkey (dancer)
Children's minor roles: group of 10 mixed voices,group of 10 girls' voices
Children's chorus: 'books','ink-monkeys',actual children
2(I=picc,II=afl).1.corA.1.2bcl.1-4.3.3.1-timp.perc(5):I=marimba/bass marimba/shakers/tom-t/2bongos/
cyms/chinese cym; II=xyl/tgl/shakers/BD; III=mark tree/shakers/tpl.bl/tom-t/SD/BD/ride cym/hi-hat/
chinese cym; IV=glsp/shakers/tpl.bl/BD/cyms; V=t.bells/mark tree/tom-t/4gongs-pft-strings;

alternative reduced scoring by John Mortimer: 1(=picc).1.2.1-0.1.0.0-timp.perc(2):2gongs/2shakers/tgl/marimba/vib/2tpl.bl/drum kit/Chin.cyms/mark tree-pft-strings

Abbreviations (PDF)

World Premiere
2/27/1997
Glyndebourne
Stephen Langridge, director / Alison Chitty, designer
Conductor: Andrea Quinn
Company: Glyndebourne Festival Opera

World premiere of version
3/23/2014
?
Company: Scottish Opera Connect

Roles

CHU HSI (MISPER) Baritone
FRANK WINTER Treble
BARRY ROOK Baritone
JULIE Mezzo-Soprano
DETECTIVE INSPECTOR GRAYLING Baritone
KEEPER OF THE BOOKS (may be sung by Grayling) Baritone
LITTLE MOOK Actor
MISS BLOOMINGDALE Mezzo-Soprano
FRANK'S MOTHER Soprano
VICKY PHOENIX Mezzo-Soprano
CALLUM, CHICKEN BULLY, THREE BORING BOOKS, VOICE OF TRAVEN, FAMOUS MANCHESTER UNITED FOOTBALLER, SERGEANT Young people's roles
Librarians, Books, Ink Monkeys, School Kinds, Rook Scarers Mixed semi-chorus
Julie's friends Semi-chorus (4 female)
Offstage vocals
Time and Place

China, 12th Century; England, the present

Synopsis

The prologue is set in 12th century China, where a philosopher is writing about the future. Managing to blot and burn a page of his manuscript, he must travel to the future to put matters right. In Crayford, England, in 1999, a bunch of lads are up to no good at a railway line: Frank sprays his mark on a tunnel wall, while Barry puts a concrete block on the track. The train derails and the driver is hurt. A police inspector turns up at the school to question the kids. They have discovered the absent Frank's mark on the wall. The finger of blame points to him. The inspector also warns the kids about a missing person, or 'misper', seen in the vicinity: he might be responsible for some fires in Crayford recently. Julie, who knows Frank could not be to blame for the derailment, determines to emulate her heroine, a TV detective, and find out the truth. Frank is hiding out at Blackthorn Tip, where the philosopher – alias the Misper – befriends him. Barry helps catch Frank and the Misper and hand them over to the police. Julie is now sure Frank is innocent. She uses the fact that Barry fancies her to prove him guilty. He invites her out for a Chinese meal with the proceeds of his petty crimes, and she records their conversation. The Misper then warns her that Barry is setting the school on fire, and she saves his life. Barry is arrested and admits everything. At the tip, the Misper explains to Frank that he will return to his own time and that none of these events will happen. Back in China, he sees that the manuscript is unblemished.

Moods

Dramatic, Poetic

Subjects

Contemporary, Magic/Mystery, Relationships




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