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Stuart MacRae

Publisher: Novello & Co

Ghost Patrol (2012)
Ghost Patrol was co-commissioned by Scottish Opera and Music Theatre Wales. It was first performed on 30 August 2012 at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, conducted by Michael Rafferty and directed by Matthew Richardson.
Text Writer
Louise Welsh
Novello & Co Ltd
Opera and Music Theatre
Sub Category
Year Composed
58 Minutes
Baritone, Soprano, Tenor, small recorded chorus
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Programme Note
Stuart MacRae Ghost Patrol (2012)
Britain is at war in a distant land. There are no bombs or armed combat in our streets, but images of the conflict and its victims dominate TV news reports, men in uniform are an everyday sight and a general air of militarism has infected the nation.

Ex-army comrades Sam and Alasdair are unexpectedly reunited after three years separation. Their meeting reignites a bond forged from danger, privation and a shared secret, which if revealed, could expose both of them to disgrace and prosecution. The need to keep their secret pulls the men together, but their differing responses to the shame of it threatens to pull them apart. Jealousy over Vicki, Alasdair’s girlfriend with whom Sam shares a mutual attraction, also jeopardizes the men’s equanimity. Sam is flesh and blood, but he’s also a ghost from the past who upsets the balance of Alasdair and Vicki’s lives. The consequences are deadly.

MacRae’s impassioned and atmospheric score brings to life these fractured and all too real people as they try - and fail - to escape the past.

Dramatis Personae:

Sam (tenor) An ex-army sergeant in his thirties, who has fallen on hard times

Alasdair (baritone) An ex-army captain in his thirties; proprietor of the pub where the action takes place; Vicki’s boyfriend

Vicki (soprano) An aspiring singer in her late twenties or early thirties; Alasdair’s girlfriend

Score preview:

Vocal score

Stuart MacRae's three-hander about the scars of war, to a libretto by Louise Welsh, does everything modern opera is supposed to do: it asks questions, stirs the imagination, challenges complacency, grabs the heart. Oh, and it renews the art form, too. You come out feeling different - about love, life and death. And yet, despite such complexity of thought and feeling, MacRae and Welsh make opera seem simple: they get the essentials right.
Andrew Clark, Financial Times,03/09/2012
In Ghost Patrol, MacRae uses the same palette [as Huw Watkins' 'In the Locked Room'] and an equally sparse and punchy libretto, but opts for close-knit musical argument and a constantly simmering orchestral style, using electronics, pre-recorded chorus and inventive aural effects: violins in eerie, double-stopped harmonics, the double bass creating percussive menace by bouncing the wood of his bow. You can hear Birtwistle's influence in the high woodwind laments, but more as homage than imitation.
Fiona Maddocks, The Observer,02/09/2012
MacRae's opera, with no-holds-barred libretto by Louise Welsh, is immediately exciting, making exacting and effective use of rhythm to portray the ugliness and trauma of war.
Carol Main, The Scotsman,31/08/2012
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