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Opera is rarely associated with the chills of the horror genre but this double bill achieves the nerve-shredding effect of the best horror films.
Usher House – Gordon Getty
World stage première
La Chute de la Maison Usher – Debussy
Completion by Robert Orledge
British première of new version
Dare you enter the House of Usher? It’s a dark, mysterious place, seemingly with a mind of its own. In their one act operas Claude Debussy and Gordon Getty bring Edgar Allan Poe’s macabre tale to the operatic stage.
Roderick Usher is the last surviving male member of his family, living as a recluse in the vast ancestral home with his twin sister, Madeline. She is slowly dying of a disease for which her doctor seems unable or unwilling to find a cause or a cure. Roderick begs an old friend to visit.
Shortly after the friend’s arrival, Madeline dies and is buried in a vault beneath the house. In an attempt to calm the increasingly distracted Roderick, his friend reads to him from a medieval romance. As the climax of the tale is reached, the figure of Madeline appears – she had been buried alive and has clawed her way out of the vault to find her brother.
Roderick is overcome by horror and as he and Madeline both confront death, the House of Usher collapses around them.
Both operas cast a magnificently oppressive spell of menace and unease. Step inside the House of Usher but look out behind you …