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A Dramatic Cantata by Dvorak.
Artists: Miriam Licette (Soprano), Tom Pickering (Tenor), Joseph Farrington (Baritone)
The Station Repertory Choir
The Augmented Station Orchestra, conducted by Warwick Braithwaite
Chorus, 'The stroke of midnight soon will sound'
Soprano Solo, 'Where art thou, father dear?'
Baritone and Tenor Solo and Chorus, 'The picture on a sudden moves'
Soprano and Tenor Duet, 'Ah, dearest child, how is't with thee
Baritone Solo and Chorus, 'Nature was clad in gloom of night'
Baritone Solo and Chorus, 'And on he went, with rapid gait'
Duet: Soprano and Tenor, 'Fair is the night, as clear as day'
Baritone Solo and Chorus, 'He grips the book: without a pause'
Baritone Solo and Chorus, 'And out of caverns under ground'
Duet: Soprano and Tenor, 'Fair is the night, and spirits love'
Baritone Solo and Chorus, 'The pathway now less rugged grows'
Duet: Soprano and Tenor, 'Now, when the night so fair doth show'
Baritone Solo and Chorus, 'There stood a pile, with tower beside'
Recitative: Soprano and Tenor and Chorus, 'See now, my sweetheart, here at last'
Baritone Solo and Chorus, 'He leapt the wall, wich sudden power'
Baritone Solo and Chorus, 'And at the door there came a knock'
Soprano Solo, 'O Virgin-Mother, gracious be'
Baritone Solo and Chorus, 'There crew a cock, of morn to tell'
The Spectre's Bride, written for the Birmingham Festival of 1885, when the composer came over and conducted it, is a poetic version by K.J. Erben (English by Dr. Troutbeck) of an old legend found very widely scattered over Europe. The theme is that of a dead man who returns as a spectre, to claim his beloved.
At the opening of the work, the maiden is praying by night before a picture of the Virgin. She is an orphan; her sister died when a child, and her brother has gone to the wars. Her lover has been away three years, and she knows not what his fortunes may have been.
The picture suddenly moves, the lamp flares up and goes out. She hears steps outside, and a knock on the door. Her lover's voice calls to her to follow him, for they are to be wed ere the dawn. She goes out, and the spectre leads her in haste over the countryside, by rough places and through dark woods. The ghostly lover bids her throw away her prayer-book, her crucifix and rosary. He answers none of her questions, but ever draws her on in greater haste until she is exhausted and her feet are bleeding. At length, they reach a graveyard. She is terrified and would return, but tho spectre leaps the wall, calling on her to follow. In an instant she takes courage and runs to a little cottage near by, where she bars the door against the horror. She finds within a corpse laid upon a plank. Ghosts gather before the door, and chant:
"The body must to death be brought,
And woe to him who ill has wrought."
There is a knock at the door, and the voice of the spectral lover calls on the dead man to rise and draw the bolts. The corpse comes to life, and is about to do so when, by the power of the maiden's anguished prayer, the life is withdrawn from it, and it falls again stark and still. Once more the voice commands, and once more the dead arises, to be struck motionless again as the maid renews her prayer for heavenly intercession, and in the Holy Name bids it forbear to move. A third time the spectre exerts its power, but now the cock crows, and at the sound, the dead man moves no more, and the ghosts vanish.
In the morning the people coming to church find her alive in the house of the dead, and in the churchyard a ruined grave.
The Station Repertory
The Augmented Station
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