Opera Scotland

Carousel

Music

Richard Rodgers (born New York, 28 June 1902; died New York, 30 December 1979)

Text

Oscar Hammerstein II.

Source

Play Liliom (1909) by Ferenc Molnar, adapted by Benjamin  F Glazer.

 

Premieres

First Performance: New York (Majestic Theater), 19 April 1945.

First Performance in UK: London (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), 7 June 1950.

First Performance in Scotland: tbc.

 

Background

Carousel was the second collaboration between Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, While their first, Oklahoma! dazzled audiences with its extrovert freshness of approach in the middle of a war, Carousel is a more serious piece, composed for operatically-trained voices and, by Broadway standards, a large pit band. this led the way to its successors, if not The King and I, then certainly South Pacific and The Sound of Music, with their overtly war-inspired themes.

The setting, on the eastern seaboard of the USA, has some parallels with the Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, of a decade earlier, if without the important racial element of that masterpiece. They are both set in working class communities, dependent on fishing, with a certain amount of endemic crime. As with Porgy, the community does enjoy one big summer celebration, in this case a 'clambake'.

 

Main Characters

Julie Jordan (soprano)

Billy Bigelow (baritone)

Carrie Pipperidge (soprano)

Enoch Snow (tenor)

Nettie Fowler (contralto)

Jigger Craigin (bass)

Starkeeper (speaker)

Louise (dancer)

 

Plot Summary

The location is a fishing community in 1870s New England. Billy Bigelow is a young fairground barker with a shady past. He and a young mill-worker, Julie Jordan, fall in love and get married. When Julie becomes pregnant, Billy, desperate for money, rejoins his old associate Jigger. They plan a robbery, but it all goes wrong, and Billy is killed.

Fifteen years later, his shade is given the opportunity to make some amends by helping out his still young widow and their troubled teenaged daughter, Louise.

There is an important subplot following the unlikely courtship between the eminently respectable Enoch Snow and the slightly more lively Carrie, while the backbone of the community is Nettie Fowler, gifted with the unforgettable anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.

The Cast

Arminy
 
Barker
 in the Act II ballet
Billy Bigelow
 
Billy's Father
 
Captain
 
Carrie Pipperidge
 
David Bascombe
 a mill owner
Dr Seldon
 
Enoch Snow
 a fisherman
Enoch Snow Jr
 
First Policeman
 
Heavenly Friend
 
Heavenly Secretary
 
Jigger Craigin
 a former associate of Billy
Julie Jordan
 
Louise Bigelow
 
Mrs Mullin
  the carousel owner
Nettie Fowler
 Julie's cousin
Principal
 
Second Policeman
 
Starkeeper
 
Teenage Billy
 
Young Billy
 

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