Commissioned by W11 Opera in 1997 , published by Boosey and Hawkes. Also performed by other opera companies; please see its entry on the Revivals page.
Synopsis: Based on the Hans Christian Andersen story of The Wild Swans, telling the story of Eloise, a princess whose seven missing brothers have been turned into wild ducks by a troll witch. She sets out to rescue the princes, learning that the spell will be broken if she can weave seven thistledown shirts for them to wear before the next full moon. As she nears the end of her task the witch and her cronies attempt to intervene but, with the aid of a magic spoon, Eloise summons help and the witch is defeated.
|Music Director||Dominic McGonigal|
|Soloists||Nurse, Queen, King, Volhek, Young Eloise, Grown-Up Eloise, 1st Suitor, 2nd Suitor, 3rd Suitor|
|Groups||Young Princes, Court, Drogmires, Grown-Up Princes, Thistledown Spinners|
|Orchestra||Piano, Violin 1, Violin 2, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Flute, Clarinet, Horn, Trumpet, Percussion|
Notes on Production: A fairy tale with a clear narrative and traditional elements that will appeal to all ages. Eloise has been widely revived. Musically Eloise is closer to the musical comedy genre than the operatic, with some dialogue. There is a moderate amount of part-singing and the piece is rhythmically very straightforward, easily grasped by younger singers. The character list offers good scope for imaginative characterisation within the groups.
One set will suffice if props are used skilfully to indicate palace/forest. Cast size: originally over 70 but there is scope for doubling. Eloise has been staged successfully with a smaller cast of less than 40 children.
Running Time 70 minutes
Available from Boosey and Hawkes.
Setting: A Palace, sometime, somewhere
1. Spit ’n’ Polish • Maids, Nurse, Queen
The maids are cleaning the palace in preparation for the christening of the King and Queen’s new baby daughter. To mark the birth, the Queen presents her daughter and each of her seven sons with a silver spoon with magic powers to protect them.
2. Welcome • To Our King
Maids, Nurse, Queen, King, Courtiers, Princes
The King arrives with his retinue and christens the baby ‘Eloise’.
3. Spoons • Maids, Nurse, Queen, King, Courtiers, Princes
The Royal Household celebrates the gift of the magic spoons.
4. Here I Am • Volhek, Drogmires
The witch Volhek arrives with her band of cronies, the Drogmires.
They remind the Queen of the bargain she made with Volhek a long time ago – that if she could have a baby girl, she would give Volhek all her sons.The Princes struggle when the Drogmires try to lead them away.In anger, Volhek turns them into wild ducks.
5. Flight Theme • Instrumental
6. And So The Tale Continues • Nurse
Eloise is now a little girl. The Queen dotes on her, but becomes very unhappy whenever she thinks of her lost sons. As a teenager Eloise realises something is wrong.
7. Trio • Nurse Queen, Eloise, Head Maids
The Queen feels guilty about her bargain with Volhek.Her sadness about her sons casts gloom over the whole place. Eloise knows something is being kept from her and insists on knowing the secret.The nurse reveals the truth.
8. The Quest Song • Eloise, King, Queen, Courtiers, Maids
Eloise decides to search for her brothers and says farewell to her family and household.
Setting: Far beyond the palace walls
9. We Will Spy • Drogmires
The Drogmires spy on Eloise and laugh about the fate of her brother.
10. Never Ending • Princes, Eloise
The seven Princes are now grown up.As usual, they have spent the day as ducks.They complain about their life — flying each day and only becoming Princes again at night.They long for someone to help them to break Volhek’s spell by making each of them a shirt of thistledown. Eloise finds her brothers and promises to help.
11. Not So Fast • Volhek, Drogmires
Volhek attempts to stop Eloise by putting a spell on her: she strikes her dumb – she cannot talk or laugh or cry.
12. The Spinning Song • Thistledown Spinners From the depths of the forest, the
Thistledown Spinners emerge.They discover Eloise and offer to help spin the seven shirts.They encourage Eloise to use her magic spoon to conjure up a Prince Charming.
13. Love ‘Duet’ • Suitors, Spinners, First Vamp, Strops
Three suitors suddenly appear to woo Eloise.She decides to enlist their help in collecting thistledown.
14. Out Of Hand • Drogmires
The Drogmires moan about Eloise having found so many helpers to pick thistledown and spin shirts.They panic and summon Volhek.
15. If Eloise • Volhek, Drogmires
Volhek and the Drogmires dissuade the suitors from helping Eloise by saying that, if Eloise loved them she would express her love in words, tears of joy and laughter (knowing full well she can’t because of Volhek’s spell).
16. The Moon Is Nearly Up • Volhek, Drogmires
Having got rid of the suitors, Volhek is so confident that Eloise will not have enough thistledown to complete seven shirts before the moon is up, that she and the Drogmires start celebrating their victory. As the Drogmires revel, the Spinners manage to finish the final shirts just before the moon rises. Volhek and the Drogmires are vanquished.
17. All Our Love For You • King, Courtiers, Maids, Spinners, Queen, Nurse
The Royal Household arrives, delighted to be reunited with Eloise again and eager for news of her brother.
18. Ducks To Princes • Princes, Eloise
The Princes arrive wearing their thistledown shirts and delight at their freedom.
19. Maybe Then In Time • Queen, Nurse, Eloise, Third Suitor, Spinners, First Vamp, Strops
The Queen begs the Princes to forgive her. Everyone is happy except Eloise. She misses the third suitor. She wishes for him to come back using her magic spoon. He does! And promises to stay with Eloise for ever.
20. Spoons • Royal Household, Third Suitor, Spinners
The entire Court and the Spinners join the Royal Family in rejoicing. They all praise the power of the spoons.