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date: 17 November 2019

Long Christmas Dinner, The [Das lange Weihnachtsmahl]locked

  • Geoffrey Skelton

Extract

[Das lange Weihnachtsmahl]

Opera in one act by Paul Hindemith to a libretto by Thornton Wilder after his play; Mannheim, Nationaltheater, 17 December 1961.

The action, in one continuous scene, covers 90 years in the life of the Bayard family, somewhere in the American West. The stage is dominated by a dining-table set for Christmas dinner, and succeeding generations of Bayards assemble around it throughout the years. Doors to the left and right denote birth and death, and the various characters pass through them as their time comes. A door at the back is used for actual entrances and exits. A stage direction reads: ‘Throughout the play the characters continue eating imaginary food with imaginary knives and forks’. Apart from one rebellious son, appearing towards the end, there is no dramatic conflict: the conversation is of everyday occurrences, but we gather from it that over the years the Bayard family and firm, already quite solid at the start, have prospered, and the town they helped to build has grown....

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