The Station Orchestra, conducted by Warwick Braithwaite
Tom Rowlands (Baritone)
Spic and Span
An Opera in Four Acts.
Relayed from The Hall of the University of Bristol Union, Clifton, Bristol.
Relayed to Daventry Experimental
Scene 1.-A Village Church. The orphaned, friendless John shelters in the church. By the moon's light he sees a bier on the altar steps. Two ruffians enter, and prepare to steal the shroud from the dead body. John protests, and gives them instead his purse. They go out, and John kneels before the altar and prays that he may be able
To help the friendless and to find at need
Some stranger soul for friend.
Scene 2.-A Winding Road, with The Church. On the church steps John sleeps. Girls, singing, come along. John wakes and asks about their song, which tells of a Princess, whose heart many suitors have tried in vain to win, only to be given over to death by her frown. As John is thinking he will try his luck, he finds the Travelling Companion by his side. Where has John seen his face before? Think twice about the venture, the Companion warns him, but John's second thoughts are as his first. The Companion looks after him as he goes, and then follows.
The Station Trio: Frank Thomas (Violin); Ronald Harding (Violoncello); Hubert Pengelly (Pianoforte)
The Palace Square. The Princess is perplexed. Suitors come, but seeking her dower only. The King is troubled too, and thinks it is folly of woman to 'hold herself so high'. The crowd comes in, John among the people. He sees the Princess, and at once loves her.
A Herald proclaims the terms of the competition. A Riddle-guessed aright, the Princess and half her father's kingdom; unguessed, death. 'The Riddle, Madam?' cries John. 'Tell me my thought', she answers. Tomorrow is to be the day of the answer.
Whilst this has been going on, the Travelling Companion has come down the road. His looks are odd, the crowd jeers at him. But John takes him by the hand - 'The man is my friend', he says.
Scene 1.- The Palace Square. At their inn John and his companion watch the lights go out, until at last, but one - that of the Princess - remains. John feels a tense anxiety as to the event of the morrow. The Companion quietly cheers him - 'Look in my eyes. All that I seek, all that I find is yours tomorrow - now to sleep'. John goes in. Then comes to her balcony the Princess. Her heart is moved, and she thinks her thoughts aloud - each mysteriously echoed back to her by the Companion, who, hidden from her, stands beneath. She makes gestures of incantation and summons a hurricane, a mist comes down, and lightning flashes; in a great gust of wind she rides away into the air. But, unseen, the Travelling Companion follows behind her.
Scene 2.- The Wizard's Cave. A procession of goblins, wild dances. The Princess enters and is welcomed. (So enters, too, the Travelling Companion, but he remains hidden, and receives no welcome). The Princess reveals her sense of trouble. The Wizard declares that mortal love has claimed her, but she thinks only of the marvel of the lover who does not fear her, and from whom she cannot hide her thoughts. The Wizard will give one dark thought that none can guess. 'When your lover comes to judgment, think of ME'.
Now from his hiding place steps the Travelling Companion. He kills the Wizard, wraps the severed head in his cloak, and by magic destroys the cave.
The Palace Square. The crowd awaits the exciting attempt to solve the Riddle. The Princess tries to save the hero from his rash adventure.
He refuses, and declares 'Your secret thought is dead; it died last night. Bid it farewell'. From the Travelling Companion's cloak he takes the Wizard's head. The Princess exclaims in relief, the people shout, and all is rejoicing. After the folk have gone in to enjoy the King's hospitality, John and the Princess remain on the palace steps, the Travelling Companion in the centre. 'Come in with us!' say John and his bride. But the Companion turns quietly away and goes through the gate into the distance. The scene darkens-we see a vision of the church. There is the bier, and there the dead man on it. The bells ring slowly. It is the reward of gratitude.
A Recital by Mary Congreve (Soprano).