May 23, 1962
What Price Confidence?
Composer:Ernst Krenek
Librettist:Ernst Krenek
In London around 1900, there lived two well-to-do couples: Edwin and Gloria, and Richard and Vivian. One day, when Gloria announces that she has to go to tea, Edwin becomes suspicious. She upbraids him saying that he has no confidence in himself. Taking this perhaps more seriously than it was meant, Edwin decides to undergo a test: the next human being that asks for his confidence will have it. Meanwhile, Richard announces that he has to attend a directors' meeting and is disappointed when Vivian does not seem to be concerned. She says that she has confidence in herself and therefore does not worry about Richard's absences. After he leaves, she confesses to herself that her confidence is probably misplaced and she decides to undergo the same test that Edwin has planned for himself. During their rendezvous, Richard's advances become impetuous, and Gloria seems to like the idea of the affair better than its consummation, so she raises a condition: before giving in to Richard's desire, he should try to win Edwin's confidence. He arranges to meet Edwin (who does not know him) for a card game and to lose. When he offers to pay his debt with a check, Edwin at first hesitates, but then, deciding that this was the test he wished to take, accepts the check. Richard returns to tell Gloria of his triumph, but when she learns the check was no good, she implores Richard to deposit the money at the bank for fear of what Edwin might do if he finds out, or else the deal is off. Edwin finds out that Gloria deceived him and feels that his life has lost its meaning. About to jump from the Waterloo Bridge, Vivian appears suddenly and stops him, revealing that she has vowed to win a stranger's confidence in order to prove herself. The extraordinary coincidence leaves them deeply moved and attracted to each other. The next day when Edwin announces that he has to go to tea, Gloria becomes suspicious and follows him. As Vivian searches for her jewels because she expects a caller, Richard confesses that he pawned the jewels. As Edwin shows up, Vivian makes Richard hand her the pawn ticket and hides him. Gloria then arrives, fearful and angry, and Edwin presents the check to Vivian as a souvenir. She refuses to accept it, saying that he should take it to the bank because his new-won confidence made it good, and she gives him the pawn ticket so that he would know what the check was good for. Edwin and Vivian then announce their plans to go to Paris, leaving Richard and Gloria to ask "What price confidence?"

Title Information

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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)

Number of Acts

Musical Style
Twelve-tone; rhythmically intricate; recalls elements of English local color; virtuoso song lines

Vocal & Musical Forces
Piano; soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, bass

Original Cast
Original Cast: Gloria, Waltraut Schatzl; Edwin, Hans Riediker; Vivian, Heidi Ferch; Richard, Phil Sona. New York premiere cast: Edwin, Joshua Parrillo; Gloria, Julia Koci; Richard, Christopher Pfun; Vivian, Anne Duraski

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