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Miss Havisham's Wedding Night (revision of Miss Havisham's Fire)

opera in one act

Music by Dominick Argento
Libretto by John Olon-Scrymgeour
after an episode in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
About Miss Havisham's Wedding Night

Argento initially offered this monodrama at New York City Opera under the title Miss Havisham's Wedding Night; a revised version, now called Miss Havisham's Wedding Night, is most often heard today.

Cast of Characters
Aurelia Havisham, an elderly recluse, s Estella, a beautiful young girl, silent
A Chambermaid, silent

Argento's score reads: "On the morning of her wedding day, Miss Havisham was dressing for the ceremony when a note arrived from the groom-to-be, jilting her; she smashed the clocks, blocked out the light and vowed never to leave her rooms or remove her bridal attire--complete except for the one shoe still lacking when the note was delivered. That melodramatic scene is found, of course, in Dickens' Great Expectations..."

In the opera, Miss Havisham, many years later, spends her time reliving the disastrous day of her intended wedding, something she has obviously been doing for a very long time and is a little bored of. She imagines a visit from her fiance' and wonders about what her life might have been like if their relationship had turned out differently. She is interrupted by the chambermaid bringing her morning tea and as the curtain falls, Miss Havisham prepares to tell the young Estella all about men.

Performance History
World premiere (Miss Havisham's Fire)
New York City Opera
World premiere (Miss Havisham's Wedding Night)
Minnesota Opera
January 5, 1981
Aurelia: Rita Shane
Philip Brunelle, conductor
Bibliography Search for book about Miss Havisham's Wedding Night at Amazon.com

Dominick Argento: "I see in you a looking glass" from Miss Havisham's Fire


Boosey & Hawkes American Arias: Soprano

Boosey and Hawkes 2004

Dominick Argento: Estella's Aria from Miss Havisham's Fire


Boosey & Hawkes American Arias: Mezzo-Soprano

Boosey and Hawkes 2004

Last update: January 1, 2009