As Trinity Laban’s Gold Medal showcase approaches, what better opportunity to celebrate all things golden in the Jerwood Library!
Our display case currently features a few choice aureate items:
Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West is based on David Belasco’s play The Girl of the Golden West and is set during the Californian gold rush. Set in a 19th century mining camp, the plot includes features that would later become tropes of wild west films: an assertive female saloon owner, a mysterious stranger and a poker game that decides a man’s life.
Le Coq D’Or was Rimsky-Korsakov’s final opera, with Vladimir Belsky’s libretto deriving from Pushkin’s poem The Tale of the Golden Cockerel. It was completed in 1907 but immediately banned by the government, who, in the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese war, clearly didn’t take kindly to the subject of a tsar whose questionable decisions resulted in catastrophe. It didn’t receive its first performance until 1909, a year after the composer’s death.
Staying in Russia, Shostakovich’s ballet The Golden Age was based around a Soviet football team visiting a western city during an industrial exhibition. Filled with jazz and popular musical influences from the West, the ballet suite on display includes the popular “wrong note” Polka which satirized League of Nations politicians.
Britten’s The Golden Vanity is subtitled “a vaudeville for boys and piano after the old English ballad”. The boys are divided into two groups, representing the ship’s company of The Golden Vanity and the pirates of the Turkish Galilee. Instructions in the score include that it should be performed “in costume but without scenery” and “the action – swimming, cannon-firing, drowning, etc. – should be mimed in a simple way and only a few basic properties, such as telescopes and a rope, are needed… a drum should be used for the sound of cannon fire”.
Following the runaway success of the Lion King, Elton John and Tim Rice once again joined forces in composing original songs for The Road to Eldorado, the 2000 animation produced by DreamWorks telling the story of two con artists seeking out the legendary city of gold. Producer Jeffrey Katzenberg stated: “We wanted the songs sung by Elton to be the heart and soul of the movie—not only helping to tell the story, but revealing what’s happening beneath the surface.”
Finally, A Goldfish Bowl is the autobiography of Elisabeth Lutyens, published in 1972, eleven years before her death. In it we learn that as a crying baby she scared away burglars in the next room, she was made to learn the violin at the age of eight as a salutary occupational therapy to stop her chronic nail-biting, and speaking of her decision to become a composer, “I became involved in something the family neither knew of nor cared for, so that no one could spoil it for me. Too bad if I had no talent – I would simply have to acquire one; a long process, a journey of discovery. But processes and journeys are as interesting and rewarding as arrivals”.
 The Road to Eldorado: Production Notes <http://www.cinemareview.com/production.asp?prodid=924>
 Elisabeth Lutyens, A Goldfish Bowl (London: Cassell, 1972), 10.