The Brideship
a lyric drama in three scenes

Robert Turner
Robert Turner
Composition Date: 1967
Duration: 00:55:00
Genre: Staged Vocal Works, Operas, Complete Vocal Score


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Soprano
  • 2 x Mezzo Soprano
  • 1 x Alto
  • 1 x Tenor
  • 1 x Baritone
  • 1 x Bass
  • 2 x Other voice
  • 1 x Full orchestra
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Programme Note:
At the peak of the Cariboo Gold Rush a group of English churchmen and charitable Victorian ladies embarked on a scheme to save the miners from the clutches of the 'wrong kind' of women. They recruited about 100 respectable, or apparently respectable girls, mainly from orphanages, and sent them out to Victoria, B.C. -- with matrimony in view -- on two ships, the first of which, the Tynemouth, arrived in the autumn of 1862. Needless to say, in Victoria the demand exceeded the supply as the silent crowds of miners lined the gangways to see the girls disembark, and almost all of the potential brides entered into what were, to say the least - rather hasty marriages. An imaginary reconstruction of the complications that might well have happened in such a situation is the subject of 'The Brideship'. (George Woodcock)
The music for 'The Brideship' was written between July 1966 and April 1967 in Florence and Rome. It is staged for eight vocal soloists (four women and four men), two silent parts (if staged) and a forty-piece orchestra. The entire opera is based on one 12-tone row and its various forms, but treated as tonally as possible, being grouped around several tone centres (Scene I in D, II in E, and III in D). Although the three scenes are laid in different settings (a stateroom on board ship, a fort at Victoria, and a miner's cabin in the Cariboo), the music concentrates on evoking the emotions and delineating the personalities of the characters involved -- thus making the work more psychological than historical in nature. Specific themes and textures are associated with certain characters and situations and recur in the course of the opera. for example, the chaplain and the matron, with their Victorian rectitude, are represented by a 12-tone theme developed contrapuntally, the miner by a heavy, hammer-like motive, and the phrase "a stone on the window, a flash in the jewel" symbolizing the coming of love by the same characteristic instrumental sonority repeated several times. While the work is written in a contemporary musical idiom, there are inserted several stylized forms of the period -- the heroine's two companions sing to the rhythms of a waltz and a two-step, the heroine sings a nostalgic ballad (off-stage, to the accompaniment of a harmonium) and the judge is acompanied by a pompous march.
The musical flow is unbroken in each scene, although these are made up of solos, duets, and larger ensembles, and the vocal lines draw on recitative, arioso and various spoken types of delivery.


  • Call Number:
  • MV 7110 T951bri 1966
  • Genre:
  • Staged Vocal Works, Operas, Complete Vocal Score
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • April 28, 2004
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score ([267] p.) ; 43 cm.
    267 Pages
    Height: 43 cm
    Width: 28 cm
    Parts page count: 433
    Piano Reduction: 103 Pages
    1 piano reduction (103 p.) ;
    Height: 39 cm
    Width: 28 cm
    20 parts ([433] p.) ;
    Height: 39 cm
  • Additional Information:
  • Opera.
    One-act lyric drama in three scenes.
    Libretto by George Woodcock; music by Robert Turner.

    In 2 volumes.

    Instrumentation: 2(picc)2(e.h.)2(, perc(2), harp, piano(celeste, harpsichord, harmonium)/ strings.

    Charachters: Rose Wilson (soprano); Daisy (mezzo-soprano); Violet (contralto); Rev. Scott (baritone); Mrs. Robb (mezzo-soprano); John Atkins, a Royal Engineer (tenor); Jim Wilson, a minor (baritone); Judge Begbie (bass); 2 Royal Engineers (non-speaking).

    Commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in celebration of Canada's Centennial (1867-1967).

    Photocopy; master of score and parts in CMC Toronto.
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