Thurs 13 & Fri 14 Aug 2009


Sometime in 2008 composer Stephen Crowe discovered that Gustav Mahler never completed his one and only opera; a setting of a tale by the Brothers Grimm. He boldly decided to step into the master’s moccasins. Starting by turning the basic story into a libretto and then setting that to music the opera was finished by June 2009. Crowe, pleased with himself, then re-read his original Mahlerian source and found that he’d made a monumental blunder. Mahler HAD finished his version of the story. In fact it was his gigantic Opus 1..




Solitary life doesn’t suit the queen, so she poses a little errand for her would be suitors. They have to find a certain flower to prove their worthiness.

It’s a “numbers” opera, so here’s what happens in each number:

1. Introduction (instrumental)
2. 1st brother sneaks into the castle
3. 1st and 2nd brother eves-drop on the queen’s deepest wish
4. The brothers’ motivations for marrying the queen seem to differ
5. Off to the forest (instrumental)
6. 2nd brother persuades the 1st to continue his search tomorrow as he sneakily attempts to find the rose by torchlight
7. Giving up the mission the 2nd brother snoozes (instrumental)
8. 1st brother returns and has a thorough search of the whole forest. He finds the rose!
9. 1st brother takes a well earned nap and dreams of the queen
10. 2nd brother finds his sleeping sibling with the coveted rose! He steals it, poisons his brother and buries him hastily
11. Back to the castle (instrumental)
12. 2nd brother tells of his dirty deed
13. A shepherd comes across a bone half buried in the forest. He makes it into a flute for the royal wedding
14. The queen has her doubts about the 2nd brother, who is thinking about his bank balance
15. At the wedding the shepherd plays the bone/flute which, with the voice of the dead brother, tells his sad tale
16. After the 2nd brother runs away the queen cradles the bone of the wronged man and they sing together


Music and Words: Stephen Crowe

After, The Brothers Grimm


Stephen Crowe Words + Music
Stephen studied Fine Art at John Moores University, Liverpool. Since then he has written large and small works for large and small ensembles, as well as numerous short operas.


The Stephen Crowe Ensemble

A versatile performing group, the SCE works with improvisation and electronic manipulation techniques, as well as with more traditional scores for concert and film works. The entire ensemble consists of strings, woodwind, brass, percussion and mixed choir.