Pearl Tree, The
- David Tunley
‘Opera phantasy’ in two acts by Edgar Bainton to a libretto by Robert Trevelyan; Sydney, Conservatorium Opera School, 20 May 1944.
The opera is based on a Hindu legend in which the God Krishna (tenor), then a young village herdsboy, reveals his magic power to make a pearl, borrowed from his mother Yashoda (contralto), grow into a magnificent tree. Krishna’s love for the village girl Rahda (soprano), who had refused to lend him a pearl and who had scorned both Krishna and the story of his exploit, is fulfilled at the end of the opera.
Although composed in England in 1927 the opera was not performed until 1944, when it was staged by the Sydney Conservatorium Opera School conducted by the composer. In his glowing review (Sydney Morning Herald, 22 May 1944), Neville Cardus was particularly struck by the beauty of the orchestration into which vocal melody and recitative are superbly fused. Its harmonic style is not unlike that of Delius’s music, although the vocal line tends to be less chromatic. There are also moments of exotic modality appropriate to the libretto subject....