She Stoops to Conquer

After Oscar Wilde’s comic masterpiece The Importance of Being Earnest in 2015 , Consensus Opera will be performing Oliver Goldsmith’s much-loved comedy She Stoops to Conquer in a new adaptation that includes music from some of Mozart’s best-loved operas, from Wednesday 11 October to Saturday 14 October 2016  at venues in and around Stratford-upon-Avon.

Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer is one of only a small number of 18th Century English plays to survive and thrive through to the modern day.  It has been endlessly revived ever since and remains a regular fixture in amateur and professional theatre listings alike.

As with so many leading ‘British’ playwrights and authors whose works have stood the test of time, Goldsmith is a member of that seemingly endless array of Anglo-Irish writers that includes Richard Sheridan, Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, CS Lewis and many others responsible for so much of what we cherish as great British literature. Congenial, disorganised, generous and great company, Goldsmith tried and failed at several professions, busked his way round Europe by living on his wits and his flute playing before settling into a literary career in London.  He became part of a circle of extraordinary men of the time, including Horace Walpole, Dr Samuel Johnson, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Charles Burney and others, and produced a series of works covering novels, romantic ballad, poetry, political writings, plays and even the children’s story The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes.

She Stoops to Conquer is a light-hearted farce of mistaken identities in the rustic English countryside that truly lives up its sub-title The Mistakes of a Night.  It is based on an event from Goldsmith’s own life where he mistook the house of a friend of his father’s for an inn, and it pokes gentle fun at city folk at the hands of humbler rural folk, including the rumbustious Tony Lumpkin, one of the great creations of English literature.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a contemporary of Goldsmith’s and is responsible for some of the world’s best-loved classical music.  Yet, despite creating superlative music in operas such as The Marriage of Figaro and Cosi fan Tutte, Mozart struggled for much of his operatic career to find good-quality librettos.  With the perfect pairing of Mozart’s music with Goldsmith’s words, we can only wonder what operatic jewels could have been produced if only they had been able to work together, for what a partnership that would have been!

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