Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Jack Gordon

Letter No.: 
April 11 [1937]

From R. Vaughan Williams,
The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

Dear Gordon

I was delighted yesterday and feel sure it is going to be a fine production.1  You may find it useful to have my few impressions of the one or two things that occurred to me as not being satisfactory tabulated on a separate sheet.
I feel the whole opera will play itself as you are producing it except pages 180 to 196 and I feel that it would be worth while to devote a large percentage of the available rehearsal time to getting that section really satisfactory so far as the libretto and the music allow of it.

R Vaughan Williams2

Hugh the Drover

Act 1

page 77  John’s Entry.  Ought there to be more ceremony here?

page 82 Constable & Turnkey are at present hidden by the chorus.

page 83 “Kill you so” (Gesture)

Act 2

page 180 Awkward pause at present – but we have discussed this.

pages 181-195 Difficult to judge of this yesterday -

pages 195 I suggest that when Hugh sees Jane being dragged to the stocks he should
  jump up – perhaps breaking through the crowd to threaten John who
  immediately releases Jane & skulks away – Hugh might advance with his
  arm already round Mary or she might run into his arms in time for the cry
  of ‘Mary’ and for the Constable’s ‘my daughter in his arms.

p.215  I suggest a longer period of drum taps – a distinct moment of tension –
  perhaps the 3 repetitions suggested in the score are too few.

P 223  “Billy Goat”  pull the Constable’s beard if he has one.

1.  VW had just been to a rehearsal for a revival of Hugh the Drover (CW 1924/2) being mounted by Sadlers Wells at the time of the Coronation of George VI in 1937
2.  Signed by VW.

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