Peabody Opera Theatre presents

the world premiere of

Where Angels Fear to Tread

by Mark Lanz Weiser

libretto by Roger Brunyate
after the novel by E. M. Forster

Peabody Symphony Orchestra

Robert Sirota, guest conductor

Roger Brunyate, stage director

Graham Cozzubbo, guest dramaturg

Tony Cisek, set designer

John Lehmeyer, costume desgner

Douglas Nelson, lighting designer

Thursday-Saturday, February 25, 26, 27, 1999 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, February 28, 1999, at 3:00 PM
Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall

E. M. Forster’s novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread, is used by permission of Peters, Fraser and Dunlop, London, agents for the Master and Fellows of King’s College Cambridge, copyright owners.

Opera at Peabody home Production photos Angels links page

The Tangle that is Italy: Director and Librettist Roger Brunyate writes about the conception of Where Angels Fear to Tread, his early acquaintainceship with E. M. Forster, and the importance of Italy as the setting for both novel and opera.

Philip Herriton, a young, well-traveled, but somewhat conventional English lawyer, comes to the small Italian hill town of Monteriano to see his widowed sister-in-law Lilia. With the tacit approval of her companion, Caroline Abbott, Lilia has announced her engagement to Gino Carella, a handsome young man of uncertain occupation. Lilia refuses to hear of the family’s disapproval, and Philip’s stern attempts to warn Gino off prove useless against the Italian’s exuberance and vulgar good humor — not to mention his news that the marriage has already taken place.

When Lilia dies in childbirth, Philip and his termagant sister Harriet return to Monteriano in hope of adopting the baby. There they meet Caroline, who has come independently on the same errand. Harriet’s bigoted chauvinism brings out by contrast Philip’s latent love of Italy. He and Caroline find themselves drawn together by the magic of the place, culminating in a performance at the opera house that evening, during which Philip is warmly welcomed by Gino as a long-lost friend.

The next day, Caroline goes to negotiate for the baby, but is captivated instead by Gino’s obvious love for his son, and ends up helping to bathe him. She tells Philip her instinctive decision to leave the baby where he is best loved, chastising him for his unwillingness to make a moral decision one way or the other. But Philip has no such certainty: he makes a further token attempt to secure the baby, fails, and prepares to leave that evening.

Harriet sends a message that she will meet Philip’s carriage on the road to the station. She emerges out of the darkness, the baby in her arms. Going too fast down the bumpy road, the carriage turns over. Philip breaks an arm, and the baby is killed. Harriet hysterically confesses that she had stolen it. Philip goes to tell Gino the news. In shock, Gino tortures Philip by deliberately twisting his broken arm. Their passionate fight is interrupted by Caroline, who gets the two men to forgive one another, sealing their pact by drinking the warm milk originally intended for the baby.

Some days later, after Gino has covered for Harriet at the inquest and the English party is free to leave, Philip and Caroline discuss the recent events. Sensing that Caroline is carrying some emotional burden, and believing that she reciprocates the love that he has come to feel for her, Philip encourages her to speak. Caroline, however, confesses that she is in love with Gino and has been so all along. Stunned by the realization that he has been looking for love in the wrong place, Philip leads Caroline to the waiting cab.


* denotes Thu/Sat cast; ** denotes Fri/Sun cast

Philip Herriton, a young English lawyer Taylor Armstrong*
Duane A. Moody**
Caroline Abbott, a neighbor of the Herritons     Laurie Hungerford Flint**
Anne Jennifer Nash*
Harriet Herriton, Philip's elder sister Kristen Alise Haimila**
Susan Minsavage*
Gino Carella Arturo Chacón*
Brendan Cooke**
Lilia Herriton, Philip’s widowed sister-in-law Toni Amanda Stefano*
Luciana Wichert**
Padrona of the Stella d’Italia Hotel Jennifer Marie Limón*
Jennifer Wetzel**
Opera Singer, performing in Lucia Katherine Unha Keem**
Jae Eun Shin*
Perfetta, Gino’s housekeeper Audrey J. Babcock**
Mona Potter*
Alessandro, a friend of Gino’s
Sacristan of the church of Santa Deodata
Kevin Courtemanche**
Daniel F. Holmes*
Spiridone, a friend of Gino’s
Jason Hardy*
Eric Werner**