In my fifth installment of lesser-known versions of A Christmas Carol I’ll look at three opera versions of the classic Dickens tale. I’ll start off with the most lauded one- the 1982 Granada TV broadcast of the Royal Opera House’s staging of the opera by THE Thea Musgrave. Musgrave has also done the libretto and music for the celebrated operas Mary, Queen Of Scots … Harriet, The Woman Called Moses … Simon Bolivar and most recently Pontalba in 2003. The opera is fairly faithful with the most significant changes obviously being imposed by the format. For efficiency’s sake the only scene at nephew Fred’s home is at the very end so things can close on a very festive note. Every performer except the ones playing Scrooge and the Spirit Of Christmas sing multiple roles. This was performed in front of a live audience and runs 109 minutes.
From the year 1978 comes another televised Christmas Carol opera from the U.K. This one was first aired on Wales’ Harlech Television on Christmas Day of that year. It is sung in Welsh, with the libretto by John Morgan and the music by Norman Kay. The one and only Sir Geraint Evans plays Scrooge and Ryland Davies portrays Bob Cratchit. This version is short and sweet, sporting just a 55 minute running time.
Our last opera version was first aired in 1962, also in the U.K. even though the libretto and music were by American composer Edwin Coleman, who was studying in England at the time. This black and white production was later shown on PBS here in the U.S. Its debut airing in England was on December 24th, 1962. Stephen Manton sings Scrooge’s role with Trevor Anthony doubling as Marley’s Ghost and the Ghost of Christmas Present. This opera version runs 60 minutes and was critically panned at the time, but c’mon, any sincere presentation of A Christmas Carol isn’t all that bad.