Chamber Opera in Two Acts
Music by Thomas Whitman
Libretto by Nathalie Anderson,
after Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story "A Scandal in Bohemia" (public domain).
A Scandal in Bohemia explores Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story, in which the detective Sherlock Holmes is famously “beaten by a woman’s wit.” Holmes is hired by the King of Bohemia to retrieve compromising documents from an “adventuress,” the singer Irene Adler, who – the King confides – threatens to ruin his impending marriage by revealing their affair. Adopting various disguises, Holmes spies on the woman; witnesses what appears to be her wedding; and – with the assistance of his friend Dr. John Watson – sets off a smoke-bomb in her home to discover where she keeps her valuables. In the course of his investigation, Holmes gradually comes to realize that the King’s story doesn’t ring true to the woman’s character: rather, he recognizes Adler as an independent and resourceful woman, herself a victim of the King. She sees through Holmes’s disguises and evades him, retaining the documents as protection against the King’s bullying. In Conan Doyle’s story, the two never meet again. But confronted by a woman fully his equal, might not Holmes embrace the possibility of romance?
Orchestra 2001 performed this opera in a concert version at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia and at Swarthmore College, Swarthmore Pennsylvania on February 6th and 8th 2009. The cast: Markus Beam (Sherlock Holmes), Laura Heimes (Irene Adler), Julian Rodescu (The Reader/The King/Minister) and David Kravitz (Watson/Godfrey Norton).
A brief audio excerpt from Act I is available through the Baker Street Journal's website.
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