• Thea Musgrave
  • Beauty and the Beast (1969)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Gulbenkian Foundation

Tape in collaboration with Daphne Oram

  • 112112102percstr+tp
  • 1 hr 40 min
  • Thea Musgrave
  • scenario by Colin Graham, based on book by Mme de Villeneuve

Programme Note


Rosaline is transported through the power of a magic ring to the kingdom of the Beast. After several months, she persuades him to let her visit her father, promising to return once she has paid off his debts. The beast gives her a rose, symbolising her good faith, and the ring to enable her to return home. Time passes and Rosaline does not return. Her wicked sisters and their husbands plot to take the ring so that they can steal the Beast’s possessions. Horrified, Rosaline remembers her broken promise and through the power of love is transported to the Beast’s kingdom. But she arrives too late. The Beast dies and she prepares to kill herself with a dagger. The dagger transforms into a rose and the handsome Prince of her dreams stands before her.


Scene 1: The Beast’s Domain

Bavolet is returning from the city where he has been trying to save the remnants of his fortune. It is fine night and, having sold his horse, he is making his way on foot. Lost in a strange forest, he finds himself buffeted by a mysterious storm. When the storm dies down, quelled by an unseen presence, Bavolet falls exhausted and terrified. He dreams of Rosaline, his favourite daughter and, remembering his promise to take her home a rose, wakes to find one blossoming over his head. He is compelled to pluck it by some strange force and having done so is confronted by the Beast who is enraged at his sacrilege. Bewitched by a vision of Rosaline, the Beast insists that Bavolet agree to the exchange of his life for Rosaline. He gives him a ring, symbolic of a magic power, which can transport the wearer to the Beast’s own time and kingdom.

Scene 2: Outside the Bavolet’s House

Rosaline is waiting for her father’s return while her arrogant and selfish sisters are plagued by bailiffs and creditors. These are sent packing by Olivier and Nestor, sons of a neighbouring farmer who holds the mortgage of Bavolet’s property; they then proceed to flirt with the sisters. Bavolet returns and fearfully describes his adventures. Rosaline finds herself fired by a strange sense of destiny. A casket, left by Bavolet in the Beast’s demesne, appears mysteriously and is found to contain a rose: the casket will open only for Rosaline and Bavolet is horrified by this confirmation of her destiny. He casts the ring from him in terror. Rosaline, transfixed, puts it on, and is seen by Seraphine and Fourbette to be transported back through time to the Beast’s kingdom.

Scene 3: Outside the Beast’s Castle

Rosaline is set down in an avenue of statues who, at the rising of the moon, come to life and involve her in dances of a former period. She becomes increasingly nervous of her partner, certain that he is the Beast. When a distant clock strikes and the statues unmask, Rosaline swoons at the feet of the Beast.

Scene 4: Rosaline’s Chamber in the Beast’s Castle

The Beast, stricken with love of Rosaline, gently lays the unconscious girl on her bed. He is torn by his conflicting feelings as a beast and as a man and tortured by the mocking laughter of unseen presences. He hides as Rosaline wakes. She is amazed to find herself in the castle and is much attracted to the statue of a handsome prince. When the Beast is revealed by a ray of moonlight, the horror of her situation returns to her. But slowly her terrified loathing is quenched by her pity for the Beast and by his declaration of love. When the mocking watchers are heard again, she finds herself longing to protect him from their evil presence.


Scene 1: By a Lake

Rosaline sleeps by the lake and dreams first that the moon comes down to earth to drink of the water. He and his reflection constantly try to unite and are separated by the ripples on the lake. Borne to the moon by some pale moths, Rosaline is confronted by the shadow of the Beast. His reflection rises from the lake; it has the face of the statue prince and Rosaline is constantly torn between the two images. When the reflection turns on the Beast to destroy him, she finds herself compelled to protect the Beast. At this moment she is woken by a terrible roar and the real Beast, in animal form, leaps into the clearing, tearing at some small animal. His bestial rage at finding himself observed is slowly turned into self-disgust and shame. Rosaline attempts to calm him, but when he again declares his love for her she rejects him.

Scene 2: The Beast’s Garden

Autumn. After months of her strange and lonely life, Rosaline, sitting by a fountain, sees a vision in the water of her father. Old and ill, he is now deserted by Seraphine and Fourbette who have left him to marry Olivier and Nestor, and beset more than ever by creditors. When the Beast disturbs the pool and dismisses the vision, Rosaline begs to be allowed to visit her father. Only when she promises to return does the Beast relent. He gives her a rose as a token of her promise and the ring to carry her to her father, whom the Beast ladens with jewels to pay off his creditors.

Scene 3: The Hall of Bavolet’s House

Winter. Time has passed and Rosaline has forgotten her promise. She and her father entertain the sisters and their husbands in the finely furnished house. The sisters, in spite of their apparent friendliness, are consumed with jealousy and Seraphine plots with the others to steal the ring so that they too may avail themselves of the Beast’s possessions. Olivier is persuaded to seduce the ring from Rosaline and the sisters are carried away to the Beast’s land. Horrified, Rosline is reminded of her broken promise and finds that the rose is almost dead. With no means of reaching the Beast, she weeps inconsolably.

Scene 4: The Beast’s Garden

The Beast is dying, waiting by the fountain for Rosaline. He is no match for her sisters when they arrive and invade the castle, searching for treasure. Miraculously, Rosaline appears, transported by the power of her love for the Beast. She is too late. After embracing the cold body, she prepares to kill herself with his dagger. This, at the moment of striking, becomes a rose, and Rosaline is amazed to find the handsome prince of her dream standing before her. As the dawn breaks, he leads her into the castle.
The sun rises, the statues resume their former shapes as Courtiers to the Prince. Seraphine and Fourbette are turned to gold by their own greed; Rosaline and her Prince declare their undying love as the Sun blesses their union.

These notes are taken from the scenario by Colin Graham