Opera Scotland

Regina

Music
Marc Blitzstein (born Philadelphia, 2 March 1905; died Fort-de-France, Martinique, 22 January 1964)

Text
The composer.

Source
Play The Little Foxes (1939) by Lillian Hellman (1905-84).

Premieres
First performance: New York (46th Street Theater), 31 October 1949.
First UK performance: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 16 May 1991.
First performance in Scotland: As above.
Scottish Opera première: As above.

Background
As with some stage works by Kurt Weill and Gian-Carlo Menotti, Blitzstein’s Regina was launched in a continuous run in a Broadway theatre, almost as though it were a musical rather than an opera. It may be that the piece has suffered from this hybrid nature. The adaptation of Hellman’s work was by no means straightforward, since she had strong objections to some of the composer’s changes, the most important being the introduction of an enjoyable prologue, introducing the house servants with a band and character music, including spirituals and ragtime. The greatest weakness of Regina as an opera is that it sometimes seems more of a play with musical accompaniment. Word setting is excellent, with clearer diction than many composers manage, but the musical climaxes do not coincide with the obvious dramatic peaks

Main Characters
Regina Giddens (mezzo-soprano)
Alexandra (Zan) Giddens, her daughter (soprano)
Birdie Hubbard, Oscar’s wife (soprano)
Addie (mezzo-soprano)
Horace Giddens, a banker, Regina’s husband (bass)
Benjamin Hubbard, Regina’s brother (baritone)
Oscar Hubbard, Regina’s brother (baritone)
Leo Hubbard, son of Oscar and Birdie (tenor)

Plot Summary
The opera is set in the Giddens house in Alabama, 1900. Addie and the other servants sing a spiritual while they work. A local ragtime band joins in until Regina puts a stop to the noise. She is preparing for a dinner where she and her brothers will finalise a business deal. She needs her husband’s approval, but he is opposed. He has also been in hospital with heart disease. The three Hubbard siblings also plan to marry Zan to Oscar’s dissolute son Leo, to keep the family money together. A few days later, his daughter brings Horace home from hospital. He quickly realises why Regina has sent for him, and he still refuses to approve the deal. Oscar persuades his son, who works at the bank, to steal Horace’s bonds that can be used to secure the deal if Horace continues to refuse. Regina gives a ball attended by most of local society. Horace tells his manager to come back tomorrow with his safe deposit so that he can change his will. Leo comes home with the stolen bonds and gives them to Ben, who thus can finalise the deal. The next day, Horace shows Regina his safe deposit box and tells her the bonds are missing, clearly stolen by Leo on his father’s orders. Regina sees this as a chance to gain advantage over her brothers, but when her husband refuses to report them she argues with him until he has a heart attack. He is carried upstairs to die and Regina then tells her brothers that she knows of the theft. The price of her silence is a far larger share of the deal. They give in and leave. Zan tells her mother she is moving away, and Regina is left alone.

The Cast

Addie
 a house servant
Alexandra Giddens
 Regina's daughter
Belle
 
Benjamin Hubbard
 Regina's brother
Birdie Hubbard
 Oscar's wife
Cal
 a house servant
Chinky-Pin
 
Cordelia Adair
 
Ethelinda Horns
 
First Servant
 
Horace Giddens
 a banker, Regina's husband
Jazz
 leader of the Angel Band
Joe Horns
 
John Bagtry
 former suitor of Regina
Leo Hubbard
 son of Oscar and Birdie
Miles Maury
 
Mr Manders
 
Oscar Hubbard
 Regina's brother
Regina Giddens
 
Second Servant
 
William Marshall
 a Chicago financier

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2017

Site by SiteBuddha