“While my Usher House turns Poe upside down, the libretto for The Canterville Ghost follows Wilde’s short story pretty closely.” So says Gordon Getty about his second Gothic-themed one-act opera, based on the popular short story by Oscar Wilde. The opera serves as the perfect comic foil to the more sinister and disturbing tale of the previous opera, which was loosely based on Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher.
The Canterville Ghost was first performed in 2015 at Leipzig Opera, with Matthias Foremny conducting the Gewandhaus Orchestra and an international cast of singers. This premiere recording invites us to witness again the delightful culture clash of the Old World invaded by modern Americans, set in a haunted mansion in Victorian England. The unhappy ghost of Sir Simon, who for centuries has tormented the mansion’s inhabitants, is no match for the new pragmatic owners. Sir Simon attempts to scare them away, but finds himself teased and terrorized by the stalwart Otis family instead. He ultimately finds peace and redemption with the help of young Virginia Otis. Getty’s libretto and music serve up the perfect balance of humor and humanity required to bring the much-loved story to life.
The theme of the opera is a perfect fit for our American Opera Series, mirroring how European opera has been transformed by “modern Americans” into something new, while honoring the traditions of its origins. The American Opera Series seeks to highlight the rich and varied examples of how this imported art form has evolved in America.
“Wilde’s finest poetry is in his prose, and his finest prose is in his children’s stories. Most are dark. Sacrifice and heartbreak are the themes. The Canterville Ghost looks at the sunnier side. Virginia’s sacrifice, and the ghost’s heartbreak, reach the endings we hoped. Wilde was never in better form. Not many writers could have sent up the stolid Otises or the indignant Sir Simon so richly while leaving us in on their side throughout. The Canterville Ghost is romantic comedy, though with heartbreak and redemption along the way. The dos and don’ts of romantic comedy are pretty much eternal. Wilde has given us one, in short story form, of unique beauty and genius. We laugh and cry, and are enriched. I added music, and some words, with the same intention.” - Gordon Getty