• John Tavener
  • The Toll Houses (unfinished)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)
  • 2+4rec.2.2.0+2cbn/4440/timp.2perc/hp.pf+cel/str
  • chorus of 16 male and boys' voices; 1 actors/mimes; 6 dancers
  • Baritone, Bass, 3 Countertenors, Soprano, 2 Tenors; 4 comprimario (2 male voices, 2 female)
  • 1 hr 30 min
  • Mother Thekla
  • English

Programme Note

Beatrice is a corpse. Sociable, not very intelligent but enjoys mild gossip, men, tea-parties, bridge and outings.

The Toll Houses is the story of Beatrice and the seven deadly sins, a surreal pantomime set in the after-life. According to Orthodox legend, after death the soul is subjected to a series of tests, at fixed stages called Toll Houses. As a result of these tests, which are related to the seven deadly sins, the soul is then directed to either heaven or hell.
However, we as mortals cannot know the outcome of such divine judgement, therefore even though we see Beatrice failing every test, at the end of her journey through the toll houses, no judgement is pronounced and the whole process must start again.