Canterbury Morning

Music by Betty Roe

Canterbury Morning was written in 1986 to a libretto by Ursula Vaughan Williams.

Setting: The chancel steps at Canterbury Cathedral

Characters:

 

Host of the Tabard Inn

Bass

Wyf of Bath

Contralto

Shipman

Baritone

Young Nun, attendant to Madam Eglantine

Soprano

The Squire

Baritone

The Clerk of Oxenford

Tenor

Katherine, the Squire’s love

Soprano

 

Orchestration:

2 Violins I

2 Violins II

2 (1) Viola

2 ‘Cello

1 Double bass

1 Flute

1 Oboe

1 Clarinet

Keyboard (Piano/Organ)

Optional Guitar – as a minstrel in costume with the characters (very little playing)

Page numbers below refer to an interim edition of the vocal score based on the composer's fair copy manuscript.

Synopsis

The pilgrims from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales arrive in Canterbury after their long journey from London.  The prologue is sung by the Host describes the journey from London, the possibility of a further set of stories on the return journey (never completed by Chaucer)  and what the pilgrims might hope to find in Canterbury (Riding by primrose lane).  The opera then continues in a series of ensemble scenes in which the Wife of Bath chases after the Squire to be her next husband but settles for the Shipman.  The Young Nun is in love with the Clerk (and he with her) but is in conflict over her vows of chastity and obedience.  Katherine and the Squire have secretly been lovers on the journey and agree at the end to search for one another after the pilgrimage is complete.

Arias and Ensembles

 

Page Number

Prelude

6

Riding by Primrose Lane (Host)

7

Another shrine, another blessing (Wife of Bath, Host)

9

A Horse is harder to handle than a ship (Shipman)

12

Alleluia.  Blessed Thomas claims our love (Young Nun, Squire and Clerk)

14

Of course, I shouldn’t be here alone (Young Nun, Squire)

19

It’s like a romance in a book (Clerk, Wife of Bath)

24

Fine words butter no Parsnips – (Wife of Bath, Clerk, Host)

28

Little Nun, Little Nun, have you had dinner? (Host, Young Nun)

31

Which of you two is converting the other? (Shipman, Host, Young Nun)

36

We’ll give you junkets and cowslip wine (Shipman, Host, Young Nun)

39

Gloria in excelsis (Squire, Katherine, Clerk)

41

Oh how could she think it (Clerk, Squire, Katherine)

43

Five Times married… (Clerk, Squire, Katherine)

46

You see it’s hopeless (Clerk, Squire, Katherine)

50

Here’s a tangle, here’s confusion (Clerk, Squire, Katherine)

51

You silly young man (Wife of Bath, Katherine)

52

The Journeys were my lady long and hard (Wife of Bath, Katherine)

54

And on this pilgrimage (Wife of Bath, Katherine)

56

I think you’ll find that all’s well (Squire, Clerk, Host, Young Nun)

58

I have not fasted (Nun)

61

The London Road (Wife of Bath, Shipman)

62

Here is my place of Pilgrimage (Tutti)

63

Good St Thomas to your shrine (Tutti)

66

For two there’s love as it should be (Host)

67

Search for me (Katherine, Squire)

69

 Page numbers refer to an edition of the vocal score based on the Composer's fair copy manuscript.