Melodrama for Orchestra and Actors

“Legal Precedent”

Composer: Anthony Gustav Morris

Text: Alfred Lord Tennyson

Ref: AGM-2010-10-02
2010

approx. 58 minutes
Status: In development

Melodrama with Video Support for Narrator and Orchestra
Based on the victorian melodrama Enoch Arden by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Multi screen projection enhances the narrative rendition of Tennyson's Victorian Melodrama "Enoch Arden". The story of which has moved audiences for over a century and has provided lawyers worldwide with a case study.


The hero of the story, fisherman turned merchant sailor Enoch Arden, leaves his wife Annie and three children to go to sea with his old captain, who has offered him work. Enoch had lost his job when he fell victim to an accident; in a manner that reflects the hero's masculine view of personal toil and hardship to support his family, Enoch Arden left his family to better serve them as a husband and father. However, during his voyage he is shipwrecked and remains lost and missing for ten years.

He finds upon his return from the sea that, after his long absence, his wife (Annie), who believed him dead, is married happily to another man, his childhood friend Philip (Annie has known both men since her childhood, thus the rivalry), and has a child by him.

Enoch's life remains unfulfilled, with one of his children now dead, and his wife and remaining children now being cared for by his onetime rival.
Tragically Enoch does not ever reveal to his wife and children that he is really alive, and dies of a broken heart.

The film-like atmosphere created on stage, underscored with a soundscape gently enhancing and dramatising the flow of the narrative, against the depth of colour of the stage sets, allows the Tennyson Melodrama to be introduced alongside projected images. These evocative pictures of newspaper-cuttings and legal office imagery add information surrounding a pending divorce case. This prelude is used as an introduction to Tennyson's original narrative.
The so-called Enoch-Arden Law still exists in the USA. Derived from this work, it sets a legal precedent. This grants a divorce or a legal exemption so that a person can remarry if his or her spouse has been absent without explanation for a certain number of years, (typically seven).

The staged melodrama ends with the moving death of Enoch and the heart-wrenching reunification through his passing with his youngest son. The underscored visual representation of Enoch walking into the distance touchingly hand in hand with his son closes the piece.

Tennyon's dramatic timing is impeccable.

Bringing this story back onto the stage in a more contemporary guise allows all the positive aspects of a proven success to be realisable.
First Performance: In preparation
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