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Thea Musgrave

Publisher: Novello & Co

The Decision (1965)
Text Writer
Maurice Lindsay, derived from a television play by Ken Taylor
Chester Music Ltd
Opera and Music Theatre
Year Composed
2 Hours 4 Minutes
mezzo soprano, Contralto, 3 Tenors, Baritone, Bass baritone, 2 Basses
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Programme Note
Thea Musgrave The Decision (1965)

John Brown, a man of strong character whose insistent warnings about the safety of a coal face being worked have been ignored, is trapped in a tremendous mining accident. Flashbacks relate how Katie loved John but married the foreman, Wayson, for his money and position; eventually she died carrying John’s child. Returning to the present, Wayson considers a rescue attempt useless, but a few helpers are determined to try. Knocking is heard and more miners and Wayson join the rescue party. A breakthrough is made but it is too late. John Brown dies and the opera ends in a mood of guilty recrimination. The libretto is based on a true incident which occurred in a depressed Scottish mining village in 1835.

In all the most important respects, Thea Musgrave’s new opera is an emphatic success… some of the crowd scenes are superb musical theatre, most of all the one where John Brown is found to be missing. An other great moment is the end of the church scene; atg its frightening climax reality returns and John Brown starts frenziedly tapping on the wall of his underground prison. Miss Musgrave knows how to create real theatrical urgency; she is obvkiously a born dramatic composer.
Stanley Sadie, Musical Times,01/01/0001
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