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A Russian farce by Sir William Walton on The Lyric Stage

This week on The Lyric Stage we have William Walton’s one act opera, The Bear. Walton collaborated on the libretto with Paul Dehn. They based the story on the play by Chekov, which is sometimes translated as The Boar. The premiere was at the Aldeburgh music festival in 1967.

Popova is a widow, remaining faithful to the memory of her late husband, Popov. Smirnov, one of Popov's many creditors, appears to collect his debt. During the course of the action, it becomes clear that Popov was promiscuous and unfaithfull to his wife Popova, and undeserving of her posthumous loyalty. Smirnov and Popova begin to quarrel, to the point where both aim loaded pistols at each other. However, neither can fire, as they have fallen in love. As the opera ends, Luka the servant looks on in disbelief at the new lovers.

John Shirley-Quirk, Della Jones , and Alan Opie head the cast, and Richard Hickox conducts the Northern Sinfonia in a 1993 recording.

Mike Harrah is host of The Lyric Stage, which airs Sundays at 8 pm.