Paul Alan Barker, Composer

The Canterville Ghost
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The Canterville Ghost

Comic opera after the story by Oscar Wilde, text by Bridget Crowley, for 7 voices and piano;


Premiered Hoxton Hall, London, December 1986 and repeated December 1987.

3rd production: Great Lakes Opera, Michigan, USA 25 & 26 October 2001; Revised for 7 voices, 2vl, vc, cb, piano; duration 90 minutes


Great Lakes Lyric Opera presents The Canterville Ghost at the Southfield Centre for the Arts this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. British composer Paul Barker based this spooky opera on the Oscar Wilde tale of the same name, resulting in a wicked and witty musical drama that shares its songs with biting dialogue, both clever and droll, like the man who inspired it.

Originally written for piano and voice, the piece was rescored to include violins, cello and bass specifically for this performance by Barker, who flew in to oversee and direct his new additions. The score is an unnerving combination of a waterfall fairy tale mixed with bunches of jarringly harsh harmonies as if Brahms had cornered Debussy in a dark alley with ill intentions. Haunting vocal concordances wind through boughs of Wilde-ian wit over a bed of trilling violins, tiptoeing cellos and basses and a piano pounding down a twisting staircase.

There’s something for everyone in this wonderfully successful sensation combination that creeps through your spine as you giggle, a perfect family affair.

Anita Schmaltz, 10/24/2001, Metro Times, Detroit