Peter Maxwell Davies - The Lighthouse (Prologue)

Recorded live on 12th March 2009. Duration: 27 minutes - Act 1 / 47 minutes - Act 2

About 'The Lighthouse' by Peter Maxwell Davies
The original inspiration of this work came from reading Craig Mair's book on the Stevenson family of Edinburgh. This family, apart from producing the famous author Robert Louis, produced several generations of lighthouse and harbour engineers. In December 1900 the lighthouse and harbour supply ship Hesperus based in Stromness, Orkney, went on its routine tour of duty to the Flannan Isles light in the Outer Hebrides. The lighthouse was empty - all three beds and the table looked as if they had been left in a hurry, and the lamp, though out, was in perfect working order, but the men had disappeared into thin air.

There have been many speculations as to how and why the three keepers disappeared. This opera does not offer a solution to the mystery, but indicates what might be possible under the tense circumstances of three men being marooned in a storm-bound lighthouse long after the time they expected to be relieved.

The work consists of a prologue and one act. The Prologue presents the Court of Inquiry in Edinburgh into the disappearance of the keepers. The three protagonists play the part of the three officers of the lighthouse ship, the action moving between the courtroom, the ship, and the lighthouse itself, and the inquiry is conducted by the horn of the orchestra, to whose wordless questions the protagonists answer, making the questions retrospectively clear. The Court reaches an open verdict. At the end of the Prologue the three officers together tell us that the lighthouse is now automatic and the building is abandoned and sealed up, while the lighthouse itself flashes its automatic signal to a rhythm which is reflected in the orchestra.

James Oxley tenor Sandy
Damian Thantrey baritone Blazes
Jonathan Best bass-baritone Arthur

Etienne Siebens conductor

Elaine Tyler-Hall director
Aaron Marsden designer
Marc Rosette lighting designer

Conrad Marshall flute/piccolo
Dov Goldberg clarinet/bass clarinet
Rebecca Goldberg french horn
Tracey Redfern trumpet
Phil Goodwin trombone
Richard Casey piano/celesta
Tom McKinney guitar/banjo
Tim Williams percussion
David Routledge violin
David Aspin viola
Jennifer Langridge cello
Daniel Whibley double bass

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