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The Ruby

opera in one act

Music by Norman Dello Joio
Libretto by William Mass
after the play A Night at an Inn by Lord Dunsany
About The Ruby

The Ruby is an early Dello Joio work, a short, effective piece based on a sensational play by Edward Plunkett, Lord Dunsany.

Cast of Characters
Laura, s Scott, bar
Albert, t Sniggers, t
Bull, b Three Indian Priests, mute
The Idol, actor

Turn-of-the-century England. A gang of thieves, led by Scott, who fancies himself a gentleman adventurer, are hiding out in a lonely manor house. Albert, one of the gang, arrives and tells the others he saw the three Indian priests that have been pursuing them from the temple where they have stolen a valuable ruby. Another of the gang, Sniggers, says that as they left that temple he saw the great stone idol the priests worship move. Scott admits that he left clues for the priests to follow them to England, so that they could get rid of them in the isolated house without attracting attention. Sniggers wants to give the ruby back; the others want to take it from Scott and run.

Their argument is interrupted by the arrival of Laura, Scott's wife. she loves him, but is disgusted by the life he is leading. She reminisces about the way the house used to be when they were first married. He tells her how the gang has stolen the ruby from the eye of the Indian priests' idol, and about the priests who are chasing them. Laura convinces him to give up the ruby and return to her, but as soon as Scott has assembled the gang, they see the shadow of one of the priests outside the window. Scott tells them the plan: the others pretend to knife him and leave him for dead with the ruby, then wait for the priests to approach the house. Laura comes down as they put the plan into practice, and watches in horror as they slaughter the three priests. Disgusted, she runs out of the house, then returns a moment later, terrified. A terrible roaring is heard, and the idol crashes in through the door, kills the rest of the gang, and seizes the ruby, As it leaves, it beckons to Scott to follow it; he does, leaving a sobbing Laura behind him.

Performance History
World premiere production
University of Indiana, Bloomington, Indiana
May 13, 1955

Last update: January 1, 2009