The Wreckers

Opera

Writers: Ethel Smyth

Overview

Show Information

Music
Based on the Play/Book/Film
Adapted from the Cornish Drama Les Naufrageurs by Henry Brewster
Category
Opera
Number of Acts
3
First Produced
1906
Genres
Drama, Romance, Historical/Biographical, Tragedy
Settings
Period, Multiple Settings
Time & Place
Cornwall, Cornish Coast, 18th Century, Wesleyan Revival
Cast Size
medium
Orchestra Size
Large
Dancing
None
Licensor
None/royalty-free
Ideal for
Professional Opera
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes mature adult, young adult, adult, elderly characters

Synopsis

The Wreckers is set amongst the legends of the Cornish coast, where it was thought that ships were deliberately led astray by the people who lived on the coast, so that they would wreck on the rocks and could be plundered.

This particular village is led by the Wesleyan preacher, Pascoe, who preaches the same laws as his forefathers: it is God’s will that the ships will be wrecked on the coast, it is his way of providing for his faithful servants who would otherwise starve. But recently, there have been fewer shipwrecks, and the people are going hungry. When a rumor arises that someone has been lighting a beacon to warn the ships away, betraying them all, the people must find the traitor. During the storm that night, Pascoe is found lying next to the embers of a fire. Can their faithful leader be the traitor they were looking for? Why would he betray them?

This enduring story of faith and love, where two people betray their own kin to rescue strangers, it set against Smyth’s beautifully rich score. Although often overlooked, this is an opera that should stand proudly alongside the others of its time.

Lead Characters