Sir John Morosus

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(Strauss: Die schweigsame Frau). Bass. [We would, of course, in England, refer to him as ‘Sir John’, but neither Strauss nor Zweig was able to get the hang of the British honours system, and Sir Morosus he became!] A retired Admiral, he lives in London, looked after by his Housekeeper. During his days in the service, a gunpowder magazine exploded near him. Although he was not injured, since then he cannot bear any sort of noise, including loud voices. His heir is his only relative, his nephew Henry, but it is so long since he has heard anything from him that he assumes he must be dead. Morosus is a lonely man and his Barber suggests that maybe he should marry—he would then have company and an heir. However, Morosus would only consider marriage to a silent woman—and where will he find such a creature? Suddenly, a visitor arrives, the long-lost Henry, whom Morosus is delighted to see. Then Henry announces that he has brought his troupe of actors and singers with him, including his wife, Aminta, also a singer. Morosus feels that to perform in public is a disgrace to the family and disinherits Henry. Henry and Aminta hear that Morosus is looking for a wife and set about finding someone suitable. Aminta, Carlotta, and Isotta, all members of the troupe, dress up as prospective brides, and Aminta, disguised as Timida, presents herself as a modest and quiet young lady, whom Morosus at once chooses. No sooner are they married, in a mock-ceremony conducted by more actors, than she throws off all pretence at being the demure miss and becomes a bossy and shrieking virago. Morosus cannot bear it. Henry offers to find him grounds for divorce, but when this ploy fails he and Aminta, feeling guilty at causing Morosus such distress, remove their disguises and he realizes it has all been a pretence. At first angry, he soon sees the funny side, and even admires their acting ability—their troupe must be good, after all. He now ‘adopts’ Henry and Aminta as son and daughter and thus his rightful heirs. Aria: Wie schön erst, wenn sie vorbei ist! (‘How beautiful is music, especially when it is over!’). Hans Hotter was long associated with this role. Created (1935) by Friedrich Plaschke.

Subjects: Opera.

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