Operatic Music by Victor Davies

For all Operas contact us to obtain performance rights. For complete list of all Operas go to ARCHIVE.

BEOWULF (A musical epic) (1974) about 120’

Lyrics by Betty Jane Wylie based on the Anglo Saxon poem.
A full length rock opera in two acts for 9 soloists, narration group of 4, chorus and orchestra
Originally done as a three LP set, now 2 CDs – Beowulf
Produced in New York off Broadway by AMAS repertory Theater 1977.
For more information see MUSICAL THEATRE or click on title above. (Call/write re scores and parts)

Listen To The Story Of By Gone Glory                 I Sing The Song Of Beginning                                     



EARNEST, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING (2008) 120’

A full length operetta in two acts based on the play The Importance Of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde.
Libretto: Eugene Benson.
Premiere: Toronto Operetta Theatre, February 22, 23, 24, 2008.
Jeffrey Huard, conductor.
Guillermo Silva-Marin, director and producer.

CAST

LADY BRACKNELL. (Low Mezzo) A most formidable lady, and in her early fifties.
GWENDOLEN. (High Mezzo) About 23, Lady Bracknell’s daughter
CECILY. (Coloratura Soprano) About 18, Jack’s ward.
JACK. (Baritone) Aged 29, a bachelor and wealthy man-about-town.
ALGERNON, (Tenor) Aged 26, a bachelor and wealthy man-about-town.
MISS PRISM. (older Lyric Soprano). Cecily’s governess.
THE REVEREND DR. CHASUBLE. (Baritone) An Anglican clergyman.
LANE. (Bass Baritone) Man servant to Algernon.
MERRYMAN. (Baritone) Butler to Jack.

SYNOPSIS

Based on Oscar Wilde's famous comedy, first performed in 1895. The plot concerns two young men – John (Jack) Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, who woo two young ladies, Gwendolyn Fairfax and Cecily Cardew.
Jack, who lives in the country, has invented a younger brother Ernest, whose misadventures give Jack an excuse to escape to the pleasures of London. Algernon, living in the City, has invented an invalid friend "Bunbury" whose frequent illnesses allow Algernon to escape to the country in search of pleasure. Both young men use the name "Ernest" in their romantic pursuits.  Gwendolen accepts Jack's proposal of marriage because she has always felt she was fated to marry someone called Ernest and Cecily accepts Algernon because she too had always determined that she would marry someone by the name of Ernest.
These affairs of the heart are further complicated when Gwendolen's mother, the formidable Lady Bracknell, interrogates Jack, her prospective son-in-law, only to discover that he was born, parentless,in a handbag!  She refuses to consent to the marriage as she later refuses to allow Algernon, her nephew, to marry Cecily.  The impasse is solved to great comic effect when Lady Bracknell interrogates Miss Prism, Cecily's governess, and discovers that Jack is, in fact, Algernon's long lost brother and her nephew.  All ends well--as all operettas should.

Piano vocal score for sale, script for sale. (Orchestra score and parts for rent.)
Instrumentation: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Percussion, Keyboard (piano=synth) Strings

“…furthers the playrwight’s comic intent in a highly entertaining and original manner……delights both the ear and the eye in this impressive world premiere….. Longo’s final ballad “Who Am I” transports the general parodic overtones of the show into a satisfying and sentimental finale….Benson and Davies have managed to successfully combine both the serious and the trivial ……add a fresh new layer to a perfect old romantic comedy.”
David Bateman - Theatre Review (Xtra)

“Composer Victor Davies and librettist Eugene Benson have taken Oscar Wilde’s witty play, “The Importance of Being Earnest”, and have produced an operetta that harks back to the glory days of the musical form and provides a delightful diversion. Benson has excised a large number of lines from Wilde’s play in order to produce a libretto of manageable size but he has left the outline of the play pretty much intact. He adds his own lyrics for the songs and Davies provides the music which ranges from beautiful melodies, to recitatives to ensemble pieces that add up to a first rate work.” James Karas - Greek Press

“..first rate… Left its audience….both startled and delighted. … I have no doubt…Earnest will be produced all over the country, and perhaps the continent and beyond. ...it is good entertainment of considerable charm….quite a lively, exhilarating affair…” Ken Winters - The Globe and Mail

Goodbye To All The Girls                 If He Had Lived In Birmingham                 Who Am I?               Excuse Me Lady Bracknell                



THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (2005) 120’

A full length comic chamber opera in two acts for five characters based on the Oscar Wilde play.
Libretto: Eugene Benson.
Premier: concert reading Stratford Summer Music 2005.

CAST

LADY BRACKNELL. (Low Mezzo) A most formidable lady, and in her early fifties.
GWENDOLEN. (High Mezzo) About 23, Lady Bracknell’s daughter
CECILY. (Coloratura Soprano) About 18, Jack’s ward.
JACK. (Baritone) Aged 29, a bachelor and wealthy man-about-town.
ALGERNON, (Tenor) Aged 26, a bachelor and wealthy man-about-town.
(In Wilde’s play there are ten characters; in this chamber opera there are five)

SYNOPSIS

Based on Oscar Wilde's famous comedy, first performed in 1895. The plot concerns two young men – John (Jack) Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, who woo two young ladies, Gwendolyn Fairfax and Cecily Cardew.
Jack, who lives in the country, has invented a younger brother Ernest, whose misadventures give Jack an excuse to escape to the pleasures of London. Algernon, living in the City, has invented an invalid friend "Bunbury" whose frequent illnesses allow Algernon to escape to the country in search of pleasure. Both young men use the name "Ernest" in their romantic pursuits.  Gwendolen accepts Jack's proposal of marriage because she has always felt she was fated to marry someone called Ernest and Cecily accepts Algernon because she too had always determined that she would marry someone by the name of Ernest.
These affairs of the heart are further complicated when Gwendolen's mother, the formidable Lady Bracknell, interrogates Jack, her prospective son-in-law, only to discover that he was born, parentless,in a handbag!  She refuses to consent to the marriage as she later refuses to allow Algernon, her nephew, to marry Cecily.  The impasse is solved to great comic effect when Lady Bracknell discovers that Jack is, in fact, Algernon's long lost brother and her nephew. 

SETTING

In Wilde’s play there are two settings; the chamber opera has one setting – Algernon Moncrieff’s apartment in London and the entire action takes place between 2 and 3.30 p.m.

(To hear samples of music go to Ernest, The Importance of Being which contains most of the same arias)
Piano vocal score for sale, script for sale. Instrumentation: Piano (Orchestration in preparation)



LET US PAY TRIBUTE TO LORD GORDON GORDON

A full length opera in two acts with libretto by Goldie Weatherhead.
Based on a historical character, a con man Lord Gordon Gordon, with a colourful and brilliant career in Scotland and New York who ends up in Winnipeg during the land boom of the 1880’s.
A tale of romance and intrigue, humour and pathos, with a tragic ending.
Full of appealing melodies and witty lyrics.
(in preparation)



THE MUSICAL CIRCUS (1981) 12-14’

A musical theatre entertainment for soprano, dancers, musician - actors as animals: violin (snake); viola (monkey); cello (elephant); guitar (peacock); horn (lion); percussion (bear); accordion (zebra); and harp. The musicians as animals stage a revolt against the ringmaster (the soprano) but are charmed into submission by the mechanical harp.
Commissioned by Sound Stage Canada for the Zagreb Biennial.
Performed in Toronto and on tour in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Rumania and Austria
Rhombus Media CBC TV special.
Musicians play off score - rental

“...it was a rarity, a contemporary piece with tunes one could whistle...entertainment for children of all ages...” John Kragland - The Globe & Mail



TRANSIT OF VENUS (2007) 150’

A full length opera in three acts with libretto by Maureen Hunter.
Based of Maureen Hunter’s play Transit Of Venus
Premiere November 24, 27,30, 2007, Manitoba Opera, Winnipeg Manitoba.
Manitoba Opera - http://www.manitobaopera.mb.ca/transitofvenus/transitofvenus.html
James Meena, conductor
Larry Desrochers, director
Creation and production was made possible through the generous support of James Richardson & Sons Ltd and The Asper Foundation. CBC National Radio Broadcast of the Premiere.


To hear more from the opera (approximately 21 minutes), please click here.

Transit Of Venus, acclaimed, as a “Canadian masterpiece” (The Winnipeg Free Press) it is the first opera commissioned for the main-stage of the Manitoba Opera, and is based on the internationally celebrated play by librettist Maureen Hunter. Transit of Venus is a love story that charts a celestial course between destiny and desire, inspired by the real life expeditions of the French 18th century astronomer, Guillaume Le Gentil and his quest to chart the transit of Venus across the face of the sun. (He tried twice unsuccessfully, to chart the transit.) (In our century the next transit, as the Earth crosses the plane of Venus’s orbit, is in 2012.)

CAST

Guillaume Le Gentil (high baritone) a French astronomer, scientist and aristocrat about 36.
Madame Sylvie (mezzo soprano) mother of Le Gentil, in her 60’s.
Margot (mezzo soprano) companion to Madame Sylvie, formerly Le Gentil’s lover.
Celeste (soprano) daughter of Margot, engaged to Le Gentil. 15 years of age in act 1, 21 in act 2 and 26 in act 3.
Demarais (tenor) assistant to Le Gentil, a young scientist.
La Tour (baritone) head servant of Le Gentil’s household.
Chorus of servants. SATB

SYNOPSIS

“She was always there, shining in the distance like the sun.” Le Gentil, Act 3.
Transit of Venus takes place in France in the 18th century.

Act 1

The story begins as Le Gentil prepares to depart from France for India on his first attempt to record the transit of Venus. (The transit was an important scientific event that would help measure the distance between the Earth and the Sun.) Le Gentil’s departure is unexpected and his household is disrupted. Celeste, the young woman to whom he is engaged is especially caught off guard. Le Gentil’s mother, Madame Sylvie, asks her son to tell Celeste and Margot, Celeste’s mother, the truth about his intentions for them both before he leaves. Margot, is shocked when Le Gentil tells her of her daughter’s engagement as she and Le Gentil had had an affair when they were younger. Celeste goes to visit Le Gentil early the next morning in his observatory, in an attempt to seduce him to keep him from leaving, but he refuses her advances and convinces her to wait for his return.

Act 2

It is six years later, and Margot and Madame Sylvie, are anxiously awaiting Le Gentil’s arrival. They know that he was unsuccessful in recording the transit. When Celeste enters the room, she realizes something is wrong and goes to see Demarais, Le Gentil’s assistant, who was sent home from India because of a tropical illness. Demarais argues with Celeste about Le Gentil and tells her that he has changed. Leaving Demarais, Celeste enters the observatory to discover Le Gentil already has been there for some time. Although they still care for one another, they are tentative with each other. Le Gentil playfully teases Celeste and she chides him for his lengthy absence. He tells her that on his journey he discovered how much more infinite and beautiful the world is than he had imagined. She then tells him how, because of him, she is filled with the wonders of the universe too though her reading. Le Gentil realizes that she too has an insatiable thirst for knowledge and asks her to marry him, to which she agrees. When he admits that he is leaving to go to the Philippines because his first attempt to record the transit of Venus was unsuccessful, she begs him not to leave. He convinces her that they are ‘fixed’ by God in an orbit that, no matter how far he wanders, she will always draw him back. Celeste agrees to wait again for his return, but insists that he must come back immediately after the transit. She is not prepared to
compete with the universe forever.

Act 3

Five years later, Margot finds Le Gentil sitting despondent and alone in the sitting room where everything is covered in sheets. During the intervening years, Le Gentil has been assumed dead and his estate has been sold. His mother is now senile and lives with relatives. But Margot assures Le Gentil that Celeste still is not married and will arrive shortly. Le Gentil tells Margot his journey was very difficult and it was hard to make it home. When Celeste enters, Le Gentil is struck by her beauty but senses something different about her. He is unsuccessful in reconciling with her even as he tells her of the inner struggle he has had. She can’t bear to listen to him. She announces she is going to have a child and intends to go with Margot to New France. Le Gentil is hurt and angry and demands to meet the father. Celeste says that the father is dead. Margot has to mediate the fight that erupts between Celeste and Le Gentil. He offers to marry Celeste, telling her he loves her and will not be turned away by ‘one fateful indiscretion.’ Celeste denies it was an indiscretion. In grieving for Le Gentil, she turned to the one person who knew and cared for him almost as much as she. As her grief diminished in time, she realized she had fallen in love with the man. Le Gentil realizes Celeste is referring to Demarais, and begs her to reconsider her position. Celeste refuses, telling him that she did love him once for what he was and what he taught her, but doesn’t now and never will again. She leaves. Le Gentil is stunned. Even at the worst of times, even after failing to chart the second transit, Le Gentil believed he would never lose Celeste. He tells Margot about the strange circumstances that prevented his charting the second transit – an unseasonable storm that blew in and obscured his view of the sky. Unable to find the words to console him, Margot leaves and Le Gentil is left alone in the ruins of his home, having lost both his dream of scientific success and the woman he loves.

Instrumentation: 2222/4331/timp/2 perc/harp/strings
Piano vocal score and orchestra score for sale. Orchestra parts - rental.

Overture              You Wanted To See Me              End Act 2                                       

Want to hear the complete opera? Hear the CBC radio broadcast courtesy of the Canadian Music Centre.



Victor Davies