CHRISTMAS CAROL-A-THON 2011: THREE OPERA VERSIONS OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Time for another post in Balladeer’s Blog’s annual orgy of entries on various versions of THE Christmas tale. The Charles Dickens classic has a certain  unquenchable charm that ensures it will continue to be adapted for at least another few hundred years. Here’s an encore post from last Christmas season for my blogging buddy Didi Wright and her whippet George, the co-authors of the blog My Little Dog. Didi’s daughter Brianna hopes to be an opera singer someday so hopefully Brianna will enjoy this post, too.:

This time 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 features a libretto by John Morgan and the music is 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.   

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9 Comments

Filed under A CHRISTMAS CAROL

9 responses to “CHRISTMAS CAROL-A-THON 2011: THREE OPERA VERSIONS OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL

  1. Wow, Ed, thank you so much! You’ve just made my day and I can’t wait for Brianna to come home from (last day of) school this afternoon and show her your post. She’ll love it, not just because of your opera recommendations, but also because she’ll see her name mentioned in your post 😀

    What’s sad is that your 3 recommendations come from the UK, yet I haven’t seen any of them on TV at Christmas time…But maybe I didn’t look hard enough…I’ll browse the TV programme carefully this year, see if any of them are listed. If not, I’ll have to turn to our DVD delivery service once again and hope for the best.

    Thank you again for the mention x

    • Thank you, Didi! I hope Brianna liked the 3 operas! I can well imagine what a hard time you’re having finding them. You wouldn’t believe the bizarre lengths I have gone to in order to get copies of these really obscure versions of the Carol.

  2. Ha! It can be interesting, I’ll say that. I don’t know if Brianna was already familiar with Thea Musgrave or not but I hope she finds her work interesting.

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