Death by Broken Heart; the Consquence of Selflessness

ENOCH ARDEN by Alfred Lord Tennyson & Music by Richard Strauss

There is nothing quite like experiencing a well performed, classic literary text presented in conjunction with virtuously executed, atmospheric and appropriate music.

That was the original intention of the DARK MONDAY @ MERLIN series. In the course of 6 years and 72 shows, we have widened the perspective somewhat to include live radio plays, theatre performances of all kinds and other forms of entertainment.  With the presentation of the ENOCH ARDEN, a narrative poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, we shall be returning to the basic concept of DARK MONDAY @ MERLIN.

We will be presenting the original melodramatic text by Alfred Lord Tennyson featuring Welsh actor Derrick Jenkins and the original score by Richard Strauss, performed by Florian Eisentraut.

Queen Victoria’s Poet Laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson, published his melodrama ENOCH ARDEN in 1864 and thirty three years later, the German composer Richard Strauss was requested to write a piano score to accompany its recitation by his friend Ernst von Possart; an influential and powerful actor who helped Strauss obtain the post of Chief Conductor at the Munich Court Opera.

Tennyson’s story traces the history of three children in a seaside town: Annie Lee (“the prettiest little damsel in the port”), Philip Ray, the miller’s son, and Enoch Arden, a rough sailor lad and orphan. Both boys adore Annie, but she chooses and marries Enoch, leaving Philip heartbroken.

After seven happy years and three children, Enoch goes on a trading voyage to China. He is shipwrecked and lives alone, like Robinson Crusoe, on a desert island for ten years. Meanwhile, Philip cares for Annie and her children and, after a ten-year wait, finally persuades her to marry him, both believing Enoch will never return. But Enoch is rescued by a passing ship. Hearing of Annie’s changed fortunes, he creeps to Philip Ray’s house and spies through the window a picture of domestic bliss; his family grown up and prosperous, a new baby sitting on Philip’s knee.

Enoch makes the agonizing decision never to reveal himself and thereby shatter his family’s happiness. After living a lonely and secluded life he finally dies with his secret intact, sad for his own sake but blissfully grateful for the good fortune of Annie, Philip, and the children.

Enoch dies of a broken heart…

In 1911 a silent movie version of the story was made by the greatest film director of the era, DW Griffith and was so popular that he remade it in 1915 with himself in the role of Philip Ray and Lillian Gish as Annie.

Nearly every decade has seen a remake of this classic story; in 1946Tomorrow is Forever with Claudette Colbert and Orson Welles, in 1955Three for the Show starring Betty Grable and Jack Lemon, and in 1963 Move Over, Darling with Doris Day and James Garner.

PERFORMANCE – Monday, September 9 at 20:00 hrs in MERLIN

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