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date: 22 October 2019

Tale of Two Cities, Alocked

  • Noël Goodwin

Extract

Romantic melodrama in six scenes by Arthur Benjamin to a libretto by Cedric Cliffe after Charles Dickens ’s novel; London, Sadler’s Wells Theatre (New Opera Company), 23 July 1957.

The opera is a skilful condensation of the Dickens novel. The first scene forms a prologue in the Paris wine shop owned by Defarge where Lucie Manette (lyric soprano) recovers her father (tenor) after his release from the Bastille. Scene 2 finds Lucie at her engagement party in Soho, with Charles Darnay (tenor) and Sydney Carton (baritone). Scene 3 is concerned with the storming of the Bastille, and Scene 4 with the Revolutionary Tribunal at which Darnay is condemned Scene 5 is the condemned cell and Scene 6 the foot of the guillotine. Madame Defarge (dramatic soprano) becomes the dominant character.

Benjamin’s opera won an Arts Council Festival of Britain prize in 1951. Three broadcast performances by the BBC Third Programme in ...

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