Miss Havisham's Fire
Composer: Dominick Argento
Librettist: John Olon-Scrymgeour
Other Artistic Personnel: H. Wesley Balk (Director)
Julius Rudel (Conductor)
Work Web Site: http://www.boosey.com/pages/opera/moredetails.asp?musicid=1170
Premiere Date: March 22, 1979
Producing Company: New York City Opera
Description: The opera is subtitled “Being an investigation into the unusual and violent death of Aurelia Havisham on the 17 of April in the year 1860.” Miss Havisham lives for 50 years in the seclusion of her home, and she dies when her wedding gown, which she has never removed since she was jilted by her fiancé, catches fire. The work proceeds on two levels at once: Throughout the opera, an investigation about her death is held on one side of the stage while the explanatory action immediately follows. A series of flashbacks fleshes out the coroner’s inquiry and past and present merge. During the Prologue screams are heard and a figure, enveloped in flames, appears at the window of Satis House. It is Miss Havisham. Pip rushes in to try to save her. The investigation of her death reveals the dark relationships Miss Havisham had with her adopted daughter Estella, and the orphan Pip. The investigation also reveals that all of the relatives involved had some motive for her death.
Character List (Major): Aurelia Havisham, an elderly recluse (s)
Estella Drummle, as a woman of 1859-60 (mz)
Phillip Pirrip, as a man of 1859-60 (bar)
Character List (Minor): Estella Drummle, adopted daughter of Miss Havisham (treble)
Phillip Pirrip (Pip), as a poor boy of 1846-8 (treble)
Bentley Drummle, man about town (t)
Jaggers, Miss Havisham's solicitor (b)
The Coroner, officiating at the inquest (b-bar)
Bit Parts: Grace-Helen Broome, called Nanny, as a young woman of 1810 (s)
Grace-Helen Broome, as the former governess to Miss Havisham (s)
Orlick, caretaker at Satis House (b)
Sarah Pocket, relative of Miss Havisham (contralto)
Camilla Pocket, relative of Miss Havisham (s)
Georgiana Pocket, relative of Miss Havisham (mz)
Raymond Pocket, relative of Miss Havisham (t)
Pumblechook, Uncle to Pip (spoken role)
A Chambermaid (silent role)
Reviews: New York Times, Paul Griffiths, 6/21/2001; The Washington Post, Philip Kennicott, 6/23/2001
Comments: Revised 1996 version premiered at Opera Theatre of St. Louis on June 3, 2001 with Beatrice Jona Affron (conductor).
Length: 01:53
Total Acts: 2
Chorus: SSAATTBB (AGMA minimum 32)

1st Woman, guest at the Assembly Ball (s)
2nd Woman, guest at the Assembly Ball (s)
3rd Woman, guest at the Assembly Ball (mz)
1st Man, guest at the Assembly Ball (Raymond Pocket) (t)
2nd Man, guest at the Assembly Ball (bar)
3rd Man, guest at the Assembly Ball (b)
1st Maidservant (s)
2nd Maidservant (mz)
Orchestration: 2 fl(I=picc,II=afl), 2 ob(II=corA), 2 cl(I=ssax,II=bcl), 2 bsn(II=dbn) - 3 hrn, 2 tpt, 2 tbn, 1 tba - timp, perc(2):vib/t.bells/glsp/susp.cyms/tam-t/BD/whip/tgl/tamb/ steel plate/steel anvil/bell tree/tpl.bl/wind chimes - harp - pft(=cel) - harm or org - strings
Contact: Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.
Address: 229 W 28th Street, Floor 11
New York, NY 10001
E-mail Address: composers.us@boosey.com
Phone: 212-358-5300
Publisher Web Site: http://www.boosey.com/pages/opera/moredetails.asp?musicid=1170
Schedule of Performances Listings
Miss Havisham's Fire (Argento)
Sunday, June 3, 2001 - Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
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