George Lowndes and his wife Claudia have returned from their honeymoon, a trip George used for business purposes, in order to help rebuild the post-Civil War South. George tells Aunt Julia of his trip and of his plans for the South. Claudia enters bemoaning her current situation with her boring husband, and dreams of the past and of her dead father, General Legare. Daphne Grayson, an old friend of Claudia's, enters searching for Orlando Beaumont who is working on a plan for the new South with Daphne's husband. George and Colonel Blagden enter discussing plans for rebuilding the South. George advocates returning to the plantation system while Blagden advocates Orlando's plan of industrialization. Claudia is fretting alone when Blagden enters and tries to seduce her. Claudia rejects him. George and Orlando enter; George and Blagden go off to discuss their business plans. Left alone, Orlando and Claudia discuss their past love for each other. Orlando makes a pass at Claudia, but is refused. Daphne enters and Claudia proposes a drink. Orlando, a reformed alcoholic, takes one. At a meeting that night, where ideas for rebuilding are to be presented, Orlando outlines his plan brilliantly. Afterwards however, he proceeds to get drunk , wanders off, and loses his only copy of the plan. George finds the manuscript and entrusts it to Claudia, who in a fit of passion, burns it. George returns requesting the manuscript. Claudia tells him what she has done and compounds his shock by announcing that she is pregnant. When Orlando comes in search of his manuscript, he comes upon Claudia who hands him a gun and beckons him on to a "glorious end." The next day, word arrives that Orlando is dead, not by his own hand, but accidentally in a brothel brawl. Claudia, upon hearing the sordid news, takes her own life.
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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)
American neo-classical style; incorporates Civil War tunes
Vocal & Musical Forces
3 Sopranos, Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Bass-baritone; Two flutes (piccolo), 2 oboes (English horn), 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 French horns, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, harp, percussion, timpani, piano; strings; (alternate version prepared by Michael Ching and Robert Ward for clarinet, French horn, pianoforte, strings)
Original Cast: Claudia Legare Lowndes, Barbara Brandt; George Lowndes, Vern Sutton; Orlando Beaumont, John Brandstetter; Colonel Blagden, Carl Glaum; Julia Lowndes, Susan Chastain; Jenny, Janis Hardy; Daphne Grayson, Marsha Hunter; Carpenters, Dean Benforado and Tim Caris