A chamber opera in one act, withdrawn by the composer
- 40 minutes
For soprano, tenor, baritone soli, SATB chorus, narrator and orchestra: fl, ob, cl, bsn, 2 tpts, hn, trbn, strings, piano, 2 perc.
Libretto by Jeremy Harvey, adapted from Shih Nai-an's Heroes of the Marshes (c.1370)
Highway robbery, corrupt noblemen, starving peasants and Rat, the "Robin Hood of the Ming Dynasty" (Peter Fanning, TES review 23/7/76) are the chief ingredients in this humorous short opera.
It has a narrator who intones the background story over evocative 'Chinese' music, which uses pentatonic melodies and ostinati.
- 17 July 1976, Ward Freman School, Buntingford, Hertfordshire, UK. School soloists and invited orchestra; leader Anne Ashby (McNaughton), conducted by the composer
The music is simple, and always pleasant to listen to. By focusing on a minor incident (a single legendary encounter), Messrs Harvey and Lambert avoid the trap beloved of so many composers – of wrapping up a simple theme in a hide of tedious verbosity.
TES review, 23 July 1976