Good Tidings from the Holy Beast

Good Tidings from the Holy Beast by Dan Locklair is an opera in one act. It takes its Christmas story libretto from The Wrightes Play, which is a part of the Medieval English collection of plays, The Chester Miracle Cycle, based on Bible stories. Originally composed in 1977 in Binghamton, New York, and revised in 2007-2008 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Good Tidings from the Holy Beast received its World Premiere on December 21 and 22, 1978 in Lincoln, Nebraska. In the review of its World Premiere, Opera News said: “This is an extremely well-written work, fun to see, full of musical interest and dramatically charming.”

As it brings alive words of the past, the opera seeks to capture the flavor of early music, while at the same time molding together musical language of our own time. The diffusion of these expressions can be heard immediately in the opening dance, which is modeled after the ancient estampie, and features the soprano recorder as the dance’s principal instrument. Though beginning in the ancient Dorian mode, this estampie becomes progressively more chromatic as it eventually culminates in all twelve pitches of the chromatic scale. The musical language of the entire opera is quite eclectic, displaying elements of tonality standing alongside bi-tonality and polytonality.

Good Tidings from the Holy Beast may be presented in a concert hall. But like the early Miracle Plays, it is especially designed for presentation in a church sanctuary, and it involves participation from the audience so that they, too, become a living part of this historical drama made new.

Dan Locklair
September 2008
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Characters
Gabryell Tenor
Maria Soprano
Elizabeth Alto
Joseph Bass-baritone
Tebell Alto
Salome Soprano
Angels and Townspeople
[Chorus and Dances]

Chamber Orchestra

Soprano and Tenor Recorder (1 player)
Flute (C)
Oboe
Bassoon
Horn (F)
Trumpet (C)
Violin I
Violin II
Viola
Cello
Doublebass

Percussion (2 players)
Orchestral chimes
Snare Drum
Tenor Drum
Bass Drum
Suspended Cymbals
Crash Cymbals
Triangle
Tambourine
Gong
Piano
Organ (ad lib)

Duration : ca. 60 minutes