Merrie England: November 1960
Music by Edward German. Book & Lyrics by Basil Hood
This well-known comic opera is set in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The famous courtier, Sir Waiter Raleigh, loves Bessie Throckmorton, one of the Queen’s Ladies in Waiting. Bessie is frightened that a misplaced letter from Raleigh will fail into the hands of the Queen, who would be displeased at the association. Raleigh’s rival, the Earl of Essex, is given the letter by Jill-All-Alone, who is persecuted by the local people who think she is a witch. A forester begs the Queen to protect Jill. However, when Essex hands Elizabeth the letter, the Queen is so incensed that she orders Bessie’s imprisonment, Raleigh’s banishment and Jill’s death by burning. Elizabeth retracts each sentence when Essex halts a threat to her life through his exposure of Dr Lopez, the Queen’s Portuguese physician, who is planning to poison her.
Produced by Ronald Smith