March 22, 1979 | New York City Opera
Miss Havisham's Fire
Composer:Dominick Argento
Librettist:John Olon-Scrymgeour
The opera is subtitled “Being an investigation into the unusual and violent death of Aurelia Havisham on the 17 of April in the year 1860.” Miss Havisham lives for 50 years in the seclusion of her home, and she dies when her wedding gown, which she has never removed since she was jilted by her fiancé, catches fire. The work proceeds on two levels at once: Throughout the opera, an investigation about her death is held on one side of the stage while the explanatory action immediately follows. A series of flashbacks fleshes out the coroner’s inquiry and past and present merge. During the Prologue screams are heard and a figure, enveloped in flames, appears at the window of Satis House. It is Miss Havisham. Pip rushes in to try to save her. The investigation of her death reveals the dark relationships Miss Havisham had with her adopted daughter Estella, and the orphan Pip. The investigation also reveals that all of the relatives involved had some motive for her death.

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