The Fall of the House of Usher
Composer: Philip Glass
Librettist: Arthur Yorinks
Other Artistic Personnel: Richard Foreman, Director
Richard Pittman, Conductor
Nancy Winters, Set Designer
Patricia Zipprodt, Costume Designer
Richard Riddell, Lighting Designer
Original Cast: David Trombley/Steven Paul Aiken (William)
Dwayne Croft/William Hite (Roderick Usher)
Sharon Baker/Suzan Hanson (Madeline)
Pawel Izdebski (Servant)
Thomas Oesterling (Physician)
Premiere Date: May 18, 1988
Producing Company: American Repertory Theatre
Description: Roderick Usher sends a desperate letter to his childhood friend, William, and implores him to visit. William arrives as soon as he can and finds that Usher is distracted and barely recognizes him. Usher explains that he and his sister, Madeline, the last of an ancient family, are wasting away in both mind and body. Madeline appears briefly but soon disappears and is absent from dinner that night. Later that evening, William peers through a bedroom door and finds Roderick and Madeline on a bed together. Roderick is brushing his sister's hair very sensuously. Back in his room, William has a vision of the Ushers as children: "I will be you if you will be me," Roderick tells his sister. William screams in terror and this vision haunts him throughout the night. Several days later, Roderick, finishing up a painting of a coffin with a skull resting on it, is much more cheerful. He announces to William that Madeline is dead. The two men carry Madeline's coffin to an underground vault. As Roderick tries to kiss his sister's face, William realizes that brother and sister are twins. That night, Roderick accuses the physician of killing Madeline and William watches in horror as his friend sinks into insanity. Roderick is haunted by visions and he bursts into William's room. William consoles him and tell him that he will take him away from the house and its dreadful influence. As William tells Roderick a fairy tale, they begin to hear loud banging against a door, accompanied by wailing and the sound of metal and chains. Roderick bolts upright and screams, "We have put her living into the tomb." The door bursts open and Madeline appears, her gown torn and bloodied. She embraces her brother and the two fall to the floor, dead. William rushed outside of the collapsing house, but suddenly finds himself at home, imprisoned inside his anguished memories.
Character List (Major): Madeline Usher(lyr s), Roderick Usher(t), William, a visitor(bar), Physician(t), Servant(b)
Reviews: New York Times, Peter G. Davis, 7-31-89; New York Newsday, Peter Goodman, 7-17-89; The New York Times, Bernard Holland, 7-16-89; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, James Wierzbicki, 6-12-88; The Columbia Dispatch, Barbara Zuck, 6-6-88; The Independent (London), Patrick O'Connor, 6-2-88; USA Today, David Patrick Stearns, 6-2-88; The Cincinnati Enquirer, Ray Cooklis, 5-31-88; The Cincinnati Post, Mary Ellyn Hutton, 5-31-88; Louisville Courier-Journal, William Mootz, 5-30-88; Lexington Herald-Leader (KY), Walter Tunis, 5-30-88; The Boston Phoenix, Lloyd Schwartz, 5-27-88; The New York Times, John Rockwell, 5-21-88; Washington Post, Joseph McClellan, 5-20-88; Cape Cod Times, Anne Brennan, 5-20-88; New York Newsday, Tim Page, 5-20-88; The Boston Globe, Richard Dyer, 5-19-88
Length: 01:30
Total Acts: 2
Orchestration: 1 fl(picc), 1 cl, 1 bsn - 1 hrn - egtr - perc - syn - str(2vln1, 1vln2, 1vla, 1vc, 1db)
Musical Style: Minimalism
Contact: Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc. or G. Schirmer, Inc.(agent)
E-mail Address:
Phone: 212-979-2080
Publisher Web Site:
Schedule of Performances Listings
The Fall of the House of Usher (Glass)
Saturday, February 23, 2013 - Chicago Opera Theater
The Fall of the House of Usher (Glass)
Sunday, January 27, 2013 - Long Beach Opera
The Fall of the House of Usher (Glass)
Friday, November 13, 2009 - Nashville Opera
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