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date: 19 November 2019

Dinner Engagement, Alocked

  • Roger Nichols

Extract

Opera in two scenes, op.45, by Lennox Berkeley to a libretto by Paul Dehn ; Aldeburgh,Jubilee Hall, 17 June 1954.

The opera is set in the kitchen of a Chelsea house belonging to the impoverished Earl of Dunmow (baritone), who has known better days as Envoy Extraordinary to the Grand Duchy of Monteblanco. With his wife, the Countess (soprano), and assisted by their hired help Mrs Kneebone (contralto), they are preparing dinner for the Grand Duchess of Monteblanco (contralto) and especially for her son Phillipe (tenor), whose interest in things gastronomic (and whose considerable fortune) they are hoping to divert towards their daughter Susan (soprano). At the most inconvenient moment, with Susan in a temper and badly made up and with the entrée just beginning to burn, the royal party arrives through the outer door of the kitchen.

The Grand Duchess kindly pretends not to notice that she is in a kitchen. After presenting her hosts with some ...

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