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Judith Weir

Publisher: Chester Music

The Vanishing Bridegroom (1990)
A Glasgow 1990 City of Culture Commission from Glasgow District Council
Text Writer
the composer, from work edited by J F Campbell of Isaly
Chester Music Ltd
Opera and Music Theatre
Year Composed
1 Hour 30 Minutes
SSAATTBB (with a number of small roles)
Soprano, Mezzo soprano, Tenor, 2 Baritones (high and low)
Alternate Orchestration

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Programme Note
Judith Weir The Vanishing Bridegroom (1990)

1. The Inheritance: a man dies, but his legacy is missing: one of his three sons must have stolen it, but which one? The Doctor investigates by telling the sons a tale of a woman, forbidden to marry her lover, and married off to a richer man.

2. The Disappearance: on the birth of the Bride and Bridegroom's daughter, the husband leaves to fetch the Priest who will christen her, but on the way is lured into a brightly lit hillside - the "Land of the Young". His friend is accused of murder.

3. The Stranger: a handsome prosperous stranger arrives to woo the daughter,
now a young woman. The girl is suspicious, and a passing preacher tells her he is obviously the Devil: she retires to a holy spot and the Devil is unable to harm her.

©Judith Weir

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  • Ensemble
    BBC Symphony Orchestra and Singers
    Martyn Brabbins
    NMC Recordings:
'As the centrepiece of the BBC Symphony Orchetsra's 'Judith Weir: Telling the Tale'- the latest, and last, of the annual Composer Weekends at the barbican - The Vanishing Bridegroom was carefully chosen. It is one of her three major operas most crying out for a revival, since Scottish Opera is staging A Night at the Chinese Opera in april, and Blond Eckbert was toured not long ago by The Opera Group. Any of these works, plus the smaller 'operas-in-waiting'....would have justified the weekend's title, for Weir is a brilliant and sophisticated story-teller, and folk-tales loom large in her output. Along with Chinese and German Romantic sources, Scottish sources are the third major seam of inspiration Weir has mined throughout her career, and Bridegroom, premierred by Scottish Opera in 1990, is an almost Stravinskyan mingling of various West Highland tales. An unsettling and important work, Bridegroomalso cries out for a staging...intensely theatrical, the opera boasts music of dramatic energy, narrative immediacy and haunting beauty...'
John Allison, Opera,01/03/2008
Judith Weir's Scottish opera, composed for Scottish Opera in 1990, is back this week in a sensational new production in the RSAMD's Athenaeum Theatre. The three interlinked stories, transformed by the composer into a study in nineteenth-century Scottish surrealism, seem even scarier in these intimate surroundings, and the thread of grand guignol gains new pungency when, towards the end, the Devil visits South Uist to seek possession of the girl whose fortunes we have followed from her birth earlier in the opera. The Devil is portrayed by the dessicated Orlando Mason, possibly the tallest young operatic bass in the world as well as one of the most fascinating of the RSAMD's current roster of singers. But, perched on her ever-growing pinnacle of sanctity, the girl - played with equal conviction by Rowan Hellier - outwits him, causing him to sink, writhing and bleeding, into the ground. It is just one, though the most indelible, of the opera's moments of melodrama, and it is enhanced, like everything else, by the quiet tensions of Weir's Stravinskian music. Many happy returns, then, to The Vanishing Bridegroom, which is just the sort of piece the Alexander Gibson Opera School should be staging at this point in its evolution and which is voiced, if not always with total eloquence, then certainly with a grittiness which seems exactly right. Eloquence certainly emerges from the orchestra pit, where Timothy Dean is watchfully in charge, just as Lee Blakeley's stark production and Adrian Linford's supernatural adornments - the magician's coffin, the plagues of insects and bad weather, the general air of grotesquerie - serve to make this compressed evening the event it is. Two more performances, tonight and Friday. Brace yourself and see it.
Conrad Wilson, The Glasgow Herald,29/06/2005
Few living composers can be so original, so intellectually rich, so many-layered.
The Independent,01/01/0001
'The Vanishing Bridegroom' demonstrated beyond any doubt that we have among us an opera composer of bewildering accomplishment, perhaps the most natually gifted in these islands since the emergence of Britten...As in the 'Chinese Opera' one is struck time and again by the breathtaking beauty of so much of her writing - and by its humour.
Weir's second full-length a dazzling achievement. It is short yet substantial, expertly fashioned, endlessly witty and above all full of music delightful on first hearing that cries out for a second.
The Financial Times,01/01/0001
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