University of British Columbia Opera Division

By Clark, Hilary | Opera Canada, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

University of British Columbia Opera Division


Clark, Hilary, Opera Canada


The Ghost in the Turret received its world premiere on October 24 at the Chan Centre, presented by the University of British Columbia Opera Division. The work, composed by George Ryan with a libretto by Phyllis Grant Lavelle, was written as an introductory opera for children. Designed to fit into the time constraints of a regular, 50-minute classroom period and into the set and lighting constraints of the average school, this opera presents a house, a home, a family and a situation to which everyone can relate. What child has not wondered about bumps in the night that might be ghosts?

In the opening scene, introduced quietly by a 12-piece pit orchestra playing mildly Asian sounds, a young ship's deserter escapes into the wilds near Stanley Park, ending up in the garden of the Mackenzie family, which takes him in, cleans him up and apprentices him to a builder. Later, several family gatherings are interrupted by the crashing sounds coming from the turret of the house. The sons of the family finally decide to solve the mystery by sleeping in the turret on New Year's Eve. …

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