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Emperor Jones, Thelocked

  • Robert F. Nisbett

Extract

Opera in two acts, with a prologue and an interlude, by Louis Gruenberg to his own libretto after Eugene O’Neill ; New York, Metropolitan Opera, 7 January 1933.

Gruenberg’s adaptation follows the play with few alterations, the most frequent changes being either omission of dialogue or repetition for emphasis. The story is that of an ex-Pullman porter Jones (baritone), who makes himself emperor of a West Indian island by combining an appeal to superstition with a white man’s cunning. Jones cynically exploits the natives, or ‘bush-niggers’ (as he calls them), until they rebel and he is forced to flee. Gruenberg made two important changes from the original play: a chorus acts as a commentator on the events taking place, and Jones kills himself rather than being murdered by the natives....

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