1978 – The Girl and the Unicorn – ABOUT

The Girl and the Unicorn

Commissioned by W11 Opera in 1978, published by ChesterNovello

Synopsis: To catch a Unicorn, the old books tell us, you must put a young girl in its way. It will become docile at once, and place its head in her lap. Then it may easily be taken. This is the story of the death of an innocent creature at the hands of ignorant and frightened people, manipulated by a selfish and powerful figure. Bu the death brings new life with it.

Composer Stephen Oliver
Librettist Stephen Oliver
Music Director Nicholas Kraemer
Soloists Dumb Girl, Mother, Sinister Person, Unicorn
Groups Neighbours, Inspectors, Policemen, Good Little Girls, Hunters, Salesmen, Bovver Boys, Cherubs, Devlits
Orchestra 2 Violins, 2 Violas, Cello, Double Bass, Recorders, Flute, Clarinet/ Alto Sax, Bassoon/ Harmonica, Trumpet, Piano, Bass Guitar

Notes on Production: A heart-rending moral story of the death of an innocent creature at the hands of cruel local folk brings a change in the life of an apparently autistic young girl. There are lighter humorous moments especially in the parade scene.

Musically lyrical and accessibly eclectic, drawing on a wide and interesting range of musical references.

Offers good scope for creating group identities, with 4/5 soloists required. Age range 9-18.

Running time 60 minutes.

Score published by Chester Novello.


Part I: A sinister woman persuades the town that a Unicorn in the nearby forest is dangerous. They put a dumb, catatonic girl out as bait.

Parable I: Henryson and the Wolf: “First things first.”

Part II: The Unicorn is captured.

Parable II: St. Peter and the Devil: “A Blessing in Disguise.”

Part III: As a source of income to the town, the Unicorn becomes useless, and is destroyed. In trying to prevent its death, the Girl finds her voice.

Parable III: Jesus and the Blind Man: “There’s no going back.”