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Sir Richard Rodney Bennett: The Mines of Sulphur

  • Opera in 3 acts (1963)
  • Duration: 180’
  • Instrumentation details:
    3·2·3·2 - 4·2·3·1 - timp., perc. (3), xyl., vib., glock. - hp., cel., pno., hpsd. - str.
  • Composer: Sir Richard Rodney Bennett
  • Librettist: Beverley Cross
  • Original language: English
  • Translator: Kurt Herrmann

Work introduction

Part eerie ghost story, part murder mystery, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett’s opera The Mines of Sulphur made a triumphant eleventh hour addition to Glimmerglass Opera’s 2004 festival season in Cooperstown, New York. Commissioned by Sadler’s Wells in 1965, Bennett’s opera with its richly coloured score was widely acclaimed at the time of its première but fell into eclipse shortly after. It was such a wonderful surprise to witness a new life for this work, says the composer, and in such a marvellous new production. I couldn’t be happier with the results. Glimmerglass music director Stewart Robertson remembered the opera from his student days in Glasgow and suggested it when the scheduled première at the festival of a commissioned work was postponed. The gothic tale takes place in an 18th-century English country house where the wealthy landowner, Braxton, has been murdered by a vagabond trio of outcasts. A travelling band of actors arrives unexpectedly seeking shelter and enacts a play that reveals the treachery. But who are these actors really and what else have they wrought upon the household? As Shakespeare wrote in Othello, Dangerous conceits are, in their natures, poisons…[and] burn like the mines of sulphur. A riveting climax ensues.


World première

Sadlers Wells, London (GB)

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