Lennox Berkeley: The One Act Operas - A Dinner Engagement, Castaway & Ruth

£19.99
In stock
Catalogue Number
REAM2144

Of the three works, A Dinner Engagement is without doubt the most widely performed. The comedy characters and rapid-fire delivery have proven popular with audiences worldwide in venues that included Sao Paulo, Vermont, New York, London, Oxford, Sydney, Perth and Halifax Nova Scotia. The simple story, told in ‘real’ time requires only seven principals and no chorus. An impoverished Earl and Countess are preparing a meal for the visiting Grand Duchess of Monteblanco and her son, Prince Phillippe. They hope their daughter will become the Prince’s bride. As their guests arrive disaster threatens from every direction – the food is burnt the butcher’s boy arrives noisily demanding payment, they try with limited success to control the eccentricities of their domestic help, and are forced to plead with their recalcitrant daughter – nonetheless, as with all good farces, the plan works out in the end.

Of the three works, A Dinner Engagement is without doubt the most widely performed. The comedy characters and rapid-fire delivery have proven popular with audiences worldwide in venues that included Sao Paulo, Vermont, New York, London, Oxford, Sydney, Perth and Halifax Nova Scotia. The simple story, told in ‘real’ time requires only seven principals and no chorus. An impoverished Earl and Countess are preparing a meal for the visiting Grand Duchess of Monteblanco and her son, Prince Phillippe. They hope their daughter will become the Prince’s bride. As their guests arrive disaster threatens from every direction – the food is burnt the butcher’s boy arrives noisily demanding payment, they try with limited success to control the eccentricities of their domestic help, and are forced to plead with their recalcitrant daughter – nonetheless, as with all good farces, the plan works out in the end.

The final opera, Castaway, has fared the least well – this recoding, taken by the BBC during the Aldeburgh premiere, is unique - no studio recording has yet been made. At first sight Castaway appears to be a serious retelling of the Homeric legend, yet the librettist, Paul Dehn (also responsible for the earlier A Dinner Engagement, has peppered the text with darkly comic humour. Dehn knew and loved Homer’s Odyssey, and his intention in Castaway was to send up the romantic story of the shipwrecked hero's arrival, naked and incognito, on the shores of Ischia, where Princess Nausicaa falls in love with him ’till she realises he’s the fabled Odysseus and unavailable. The comedy should not come as a surprise: the composer, in the score, explicitly ‘pairs’ this opera as a companion piece to A Dinner Engagement.

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