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The Picture of Dorian Gray

opera in two acts

Music by Lowell Liebermann
Libretto by the composer
after the novel by Oscar Wilde
About The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray was the first American opera to be premiered by the Opera Monte Carlo (The first American opera performed there was Joseph Redding's Fay-Yen-Fah in 1926.) Joel Kasow wrote in Opera: "Without being in the least pejorative, the music was often reminiscent of film music of the highest quality."

Cast of Characters
Lord Henry Wotton, bar Basil Hallwoard, b
Basil's Butler, bar Dorian Gray, t
Sibyl Vane, s James Vane, bar
Whore, s Lord Geoffrey, high tenor
Gamekeeper, t
No chorus, supers inc. Butler, Sailors, Whores, Piano Player, Hunters, Beaters

The painter Basil Hallward is showing Lord Henry Wotton his recently completed portrait of his young friend, Dorian Gray. Dorian enters and is struck with Lord Henry; he reflects how sad it is that he must grow old while his portrait stays forever young and beautiful, and wishes that their roles could be reversed. Dorian falls under Lord Henry's influence, and falls in love with an actress, Sibyl Vane. When she kills herself because of his cruelty, Dorian notices that the expression on the portrait has changed, and he realizes that his wish had been granted: the vicissitudes of his life will be reflected only in his portrait. He arranges to have it moved to an upper room in his house.

Eight years later, Basil upbraids Dorian for his dissipated life. Dorian shows him the portrait, which has grown ugly with the actions of his recent life; on an impulse, Dorian stabs and kills his old friend. In a dockside tavern, Dorian is confronted by Sibyl's brother, but manages to put him off; a little while later, Dorian sees him accidentally shot during a hunting expedition. He tells Lord Henry that he means to reform, but the older man only laughs at him. Alone in his attic, he confronts the picture, but it shows him that he is not really reformed; he is only a hypocrite. Angrily, he attacks the picture; as he stabs it, he falls to the floor, dead

Performance History
World premiere
Opera de Monte-Carlo, Monte Carlo, Monaco
May 8, 1996
Lord Henry Wotton: John Hancock
Basil Hallward: Gregory Reinhart
Dorian Gray: Jeffrey Lentz
Sibyl Vane: Korliss Uecker
James Vane: Ron Baker
The Whore: Vivian Tierney
Lord Geoffrey: Bryan Jones
Gamekeeper: Stephen Chaundy
Steuart Bedford, conductor
John Cox, stage director
American premiere
Florentine Opera, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
February, 1999

Last update: January 1, 2009