community opera in two acts



Libretto by Christina Jones

Commissioned by the Royal Opera, Covent Garden

In Britain, in the rationed early 1950's. George Cullen, an inspirational teacher, has withdrawn to his library after a school trip has ended in tragedy, resulting in the death of Jack Proctor. The school is in turmoil, preparing for an annual fancy-dress ball, which Susan Proctor and her gang resent, feeling that it is too soon. Gillian Cullen is in despair, trying to get George to face the world, and is propositioned by a young eighteen year old student, Kevin. George communes with his books, and his three heroes, Lawrence of Arabia, Captain Scott and Colonel Fawcett appear to guide him to rejoin society. The opera culminates with George's appearance at the fancy dress ball, and the school society is made whole again, presided over by the benign ghost of Jack Proctor. 

Premiere: 8 February 1998. The Corn Exchange, Cambridge


Director: Judith Sharp

Designer: Joanna Parker

Lighting: Brian Cleary

Choreographer: Kenneth Tharp

Conductor: David Syrus


Jillian Arthur, Jozic Koc, Cambridge community singers and chorus, Royal Opera House and Cambridge ensemble 

George Cullen- baritone
Gillian Cullen- coloratura soprano

Heroes: Lawrence of Arabia, Scott of the Antarctic, Colonel Percy Fawcett - baritones (1 possibly a tenor)
Mr. Proctor- baritone
Mrs Proctor- soprano
Susan Proctor- singer
Jack Proctor- child singer (preferably not a choirboy voice.)
First Fabulous- Dinnerlady jazz or popular singer
Kevin -  dancer and actor (no singing)
The Headmaster/mistress- spoken role
A policeman- singer
A policewoman- singer
Firemen (can be solo)- singer
A nurse- singer
A lollipop lady (or ladies)- silent
A dromedary camel- silent
a Mule (optional-  silent
Huskies (optional)- silent

Young chorus: Travel posters, Susan's girl-gang, School choir
SATB chorus - to subdivide: Teachers, Parents, Caretakers, Fabulous Dinnerladies, Nosy Neighbours, Voices of the Mountain

Orchestra, 1+112/2210/2 perc/timp/harp/piano/strings