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Goblin Market (2011)

Instrumentation: 2 Sopranos, 1 Baritone, Violin, Accordion, Cello ad libitum
Duration: ca. 30'
Poetry by Christina Rossetti
Commissioned by Rhymes with Opera
Premiere Dates: December 2, 2011, Baltimore, MD
December 3, 2011, Washington, DC

Program Note

While we were both graduate students, my wife brought to my attention Christina Rossetti’s otherworldy and sensuous poem Goblin Market,which she was studying at the time. The sing-song rhythms and straightforward rhyme scheme belied a great treachery and danger that lay at the heart of the poem. I have always been taken with the dual nature of fairy-stories, their glamour hiding harder truths and trials. When Rhymes with Opera asked me to write a brief opera for their winter 2011 performance, I immediately knew that I wanted to explore this text. The opera was written for two sopranos, primarily portraying the two sisters of the poem, and one baritone, who joined the other singers in serving both as a narrator and a representation of the Goblins. A small ensemble of violin, ‘cello, and accordion provided the slightly off-kilter sound world surrounding the mortals. The work was premiered on December 2, 2011 at Liam Flynn’s Ale House in Baltimore and on December 3, 2011 in Washington, D.C.

— Douglas Buchanan


Goblin Market


"[T]he spectacular vocal piece “Goblin Market” (based on the poem by Christina Rossetti)....was even a bit scarier – and more ethereally beautiful – than it sounds....[U]nder Buchanan’s intense conducting, Elisabeth Halliday, Bonnie Lander, and Robert Maril sang Rossetti’s disturbing poem beautifully."

— Baynard Woods, What Weekly (Baltimore, MD)

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