• Stephen Oliver
  • The Garden (1977)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)
  • lute, viola de gamba
  • Soprano, Tenor; hpd/vn.vn.va.vc
  • Soprano, Tenor
  • 20 min
  • Stephen Oliver
  • Translated by Nicholas Jose and Giuseppe-Maria Sesti into Italian and by Giessen into German
  • English

Programme Note

BRIEF PROGRAMME NOTE

The opera is staged and costumed, although it does not require the full resources of a theatre. The story concerns a woman sitting in a garden, who is visited by a man who commiserates with her on her husband’s death. It gradually appears that he knows more about that death than she would like. But in the end, it is he who is disconcerted.

FULL PROGRAMME NOTE

This work was commissioned by Fortune's Fire. The text, by the composer, was translated into Italian by Nicholas Jose and Giuseppe-Maria Sesti.

The opera is staged and costumed, although it does not require the full resources of a theatre. The story concerns a woman sitting in a garden, who is visited by a man who commiserates with her on her husband’s death. It gradually appears that he knows more about that death than she would like. But in the end, it is he who is disconcerted.

The first performance took place at the Batignano Festival on 27 July 1977. The London premiere, by Fortune's Fire, took place at the Wigmore Hall on 17 April 1980. The work was produced by London Weekend Television on 23 May 1982.

BRIEF SYNOPSIS

A woman enters a garden and, smiling, sits down at a table to read, and furtively hides a small object she finds on the table. Into this scene of comfortable disquiet comes a stranger, whose presence unsettles the woman even more. He has heard about the recent death of her husband, and offers his condolences. As their conversation proceeds, it becomes apparent that he knows more about her affairs than he pretends. He is interested in the mound of flowers growing on a suspicious-looking mound of earth. A series of discoveries leads the gardener to confront the woman with the murder of her own husband- that she had burned his clothes and buried his body in the garden. He identifies himself as the gardener and, armed with the knowledge of the murder, assumes his new role as man of the house. The widow accepts him into her home, and they begin their uncertain future.

ALTERNATE INSTRUMENTATION: soprano, tenor; harpsichord, string quartet